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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Relative Horizon

Tues 6.23
Started the day by riding with my 4th-grade nephew over to his school. I was very pleased to see a lineup of bikes in the rack.

After I picked him up at 1230 (short days the last week of school) we rode our bikes all the way to Wendy's. Possibly the first time he's ever gotten anywhere besides school without a car or an airplane. Fortuitously, the best of all possible things happened - one of his buddies passed by in a car, and called out "Hi John" in a sort of "what are you doing - how come you get to do that?" tone of voice.

Rode back to the house. Not a big ride for me, but new horizons for the nephew.

Monday, June 22, 2015

First World Privilege Whining

Sat 6.20 7miles
Sun 6.21 16miles
Mon 6.22 6 miles
So far, none of my 2015 bike plans have actually happened. Didn't go to Natchez because: rain; didn't go to LakeErie because: ferry schedule; didn't go DC-Pgh or the Solstice Ride because: sick family. First World Privilege Whining.

Saturday I rode over to my mother's house to do the sit-down and review-the-meds meeting. Arghhhh. This place has blue ribbons tied around most street poles, because "blue lives matter". Double-arghhh.

Riding out of my mother's place, I got caught in a rainfall. I needed to spend a bit of time out before I retired so I went into Starbucks to do some work via their wifi, but first I needed to dry off - just like Mr Bean using the hands-dryer.

Sunday afternoon I got away to ride to Jones Beach. There's a tremendous bike path that goes down there. I was concerned that bikes would be banned on the boardwalk but this sign set the tone:

Stopped for a few slices of pizza, came out to a flat rear tire. This time I patched rather than replaced the tube, I haven't done that for a while. Great fun but time for new tires.

Monday I went out to buy at least one new tire. I rode over to LBS Brand's which is a great bike shop. Not as downright loving as ABS, not as convivial as Thick, but an excellent shop. They do a lot of volume; there's at least 8 people working the floor, 6 mechanics turning wrenches, and a couple of old guys (my age) handling the unusual. They manage to deliver consistently excellent service; it's not a supermarket like Performance. Walk in and ask for Schwalbe's, and after you pronounce it three times the staff will introduce you to one of the old guys which was great.

They didn't have any 700x32 Schwalbe's, so I bought one 700x28 Armadillo. Rode the bike back to the place I'm staying, with the tire around my neck which wasn't very elegant. Put the 28 on the front, put the (better) 32 on the rear. Pinch-flatted the front tune while mounting it, maybe because my 32 inner tube was too fat for the 28. Went back to the shop to buy a smaller tube, bought two because: me. I was amused to see that between the bulk Gatorade and tri-athlete powders, they sell coffee:

Mounted the 28 tube in a 28 tire: success. My on-bike pump wasn't really up to driving the tires to 85psi, so I rode to Brand's again (third time is a charm) to use their floor pump. While I was there, bought a patch kit to replace the one I'd opened the day before, and also bought a frame pump that goes both ways - Presta and Schrader. All the new floor pumps are bivalves, I don't understand why the better frame pump manufacturers aren't embracing it.

Rode to Starbucks, bought expensive standardized corporate coffee and sucked at the trough of their wifi. Joined my sister and her husband for pie, rode to base in the dark. I love night riding.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bike Camping Overnight to Montauk Point

Wed 6/17 38m
Thur 6/18 44m
After reading a trip report at BikeOvernights, I took advantage of an unscheduled two days on LawnGuyLand to take an overnight.

I drove out to Hampton Bays and parked the van at the LIRR station. Headed east on NY80, then Route27. It's much hillier on eastern Long Island than in central LI.

Rode through several very upscale beach communities called The Hamptons (East Hampton, BridgeHampton, SouthHampton, etc). You know how in DC, there are Starbucks located across the street from each other? In one town I saw two Ralph Lauren stores across from each other. The Hamptons are the Sewickley of Suffolk County. When these people put up garage sale signs, the name Sotheby's is on it.

Camped overnight at a recently-developed bike hostel at Montauk County Park, formerly Teddy Roosevelt Park. The park is situated around the "third house", which Roosevelt's 20,000 Rough Riders came to after the Spanish-American War for recuperation and discharge.

This was an excellent bikecamping destination. Rest rooms, a water supply, some electric outlets even! There's a horse farm adjacent, so I fell asleep to crickets, occasional frogs, the sounds of ocean surf and the occasional horse whinney from the paddock. This is a designated "dark skies park" and at about 2.30am, the overcast had cleared and I could make out the Milky Way, which was awesome.

Woke up on Thursday, decided against cooking breakfast. Rode three miles further east to the Montauk Point Lighthouse. They have some hills out here that could make a Pittsburgher homesick.

Stopped at Left Hand Coffee for - well, coffee and breakfast. Totally excellent. Their counter is taken up by this continually-flowing coffee thingy.

Had a flat rear tire. Argghhh. I think it might have been a pinch flat. While studying my tire and looking for the perpetrator, I saw two places where the blue inner-line on my Schwalbe Marathons is just starting to peek through. Time for new tires. Kudos to Amagansett Beach Company, a bike shop, for letting me use their floor pump to top off the tire, and suggesting that I use their restroom to clean up.

In East Hampton, The MaidStone is a posh lodging complete with the expected Adirondack chairs and loaner Euro-urban bikes, because: East Hampton.

This was a very nice overnight. More hills than I expected. Excellent bike camping accomodations. Shops (for food, coffee) are expensive. Roads were great - either there was a generous shoulder marked as a bike lane, or there were signs telling drivers "bikes in lane". All the drivers were very courteous.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Big Tent Pittsburgh Rainbow Ride 2015

Fri 6.12.2015 25m
This was 412Flock!'s second annual Rainbow ride. We'd had a previous one in 2013, when we started as "Pride Ride" and got pushback from Delta Foundation because they believe they own the term Pride in the Pittsburgh region, so we got into using Rainbow Ride which works for me.

I started at the Bastille, towing the sound trailer. This was my first time pulling a trailer since the mid-1990's. It rolled very easily. There's a springy-bungee fitting in the coupler that introduces a sort of slinky-oscillation into the relationship between the bike and the trailer, which was something I didn't have time to get used to. It was a lot of work riding up to Oakland on a hot day.

The 412Flock! crew had a pretty good plan for the ride, but as BobC taught me "no plan survives contact with the enemy" which in today's variation meant the weather. We started to muster at Dippy but the skies were getting dark, and we repositioned to the big tent in Schenley Plaza next to Conflict Kitchen. This turned out to be a good move.

Photo by Joyce W

When the storm started it was a deluge, dark skies and reduced visibility. A few later arrivals showed up soaked, I felt for them. After the rain passed we briefed and started out, probably 40 cyclists AND three police officers on bikes which was very awesome.

video by Miguel

Our first destination was the Paint Party, which being an outdoor activity was scrubbed due to the rain. Our next destination was the Fruit Loop on Prospect Drive, where David Piergalski was beat to death in 1989 by two 20-year olds who found entertainment in harassing queers.

photo by Yale

Then we descended Prospect Drive Trail, the Pocusset bike lane, and Greenfield to SecondAve-Saline and the Jail Trail. Tremendous descent, on a wet road and the heat had broken with the rain so it was a little bit cool. Great fun.

We rode SouthSide to 2700 Jane Street, now Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community but previously Wild Sisters Collective and then Bloomers bar. Then we rode East Carson Street to the 10th Street Bridge.

I really appreciated the spirit of the riders. It rained off an on and nobody complained or bemoaned the conditions. Also, the three police officers were tremendous; I've never been on a group ride with such support.

We rode the Armstrong Tunnels, then went around to the GLCC on Grant Street where Jason gave us a briefing. Coincidentally, they were celebrating their 20th Anniversary friday-night Teen Party.

photo by GLCC

Grant Street to Liberty, shuffle to Penn, shuffle to Smallman.

video by Miguel

Smallman Street, Shuffle over to Penn, yah-tah to Liberty. Took Libert Ave out to 33rd and then Brewers Hotel. In addition to being a bar, Brewers is an SRO (sleeping room only) hotel which served as an Aids Hospice in the 1980's. An older man I met during the week told me, there was a time where Brewers was the only place you could go to, to die.

We were fortunate that Harrison Apple was on site waiting for us at Brewers and gave us a briefing on the history of the place and also on the role of SRO's as bachelor housing during Pittsburgh's industrial times.

photo by Yale

Then we rode back into downtown. We had originally planned to take Liberty inbound but our police escort suggested Penn.

video by Miguel

We took the Penn Ave Bike Lane, then turned left and did a loop at Market Square. Then out to Point State Park. After the storm it had turned into a really nice evening.

This was a tremendous ride that I really enjoyed.

I put the trailer back on my bike for the ride to the Bastille. It has a Trek mounting mechanism which introduces a sort of Slinky-oscillation - it certainly works but it's hard to ignore.

The last ten feet of my ride, as I slowed and turned outside the Bastille, I slowed and turned too much for a bike with a trailer's weight involved, the force input was insufficient for the weight, I fell below minimum controllable bikespeed and went Fall Down Go Boom. Fortunately, Bumbles Bounce™.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

the Yinzer Saks Fifth Avenue

Wed 6/10 27miles
Started early in Manchester-Chateau by the Bastille. Recently, the Pittsburgh Orbit identified a tiny castle in a Strip District alley: Spring Way between 21st and 22nd Streets,

Today I discovered where the kingdom keeps it's fleet of galleons: the North Side.

After my meeting I rode the route of this upcoming Friday's Rainbow Ride, sponsored by 412Flock!

This building was once the Pittsburgh Stock Exchange. Then it was a (gay) dance club named Zach's Fourth Avenue, which I think was a yinzer play-on-words regarding Saks Fifth Avenue. Amazing facade. (interior photos, PG).

I met YC and we stopped for Egg Creams in Klavons. ++ Then Yale opened one of his water bottles which he'd filled with June-berries (aka service-berries) Double-yum.

In Point State Park, there's a Negative Energy Absorber prototype being demo'd. So I rested my own Entropy Dissipator against it, and the universe did not explode. At least not this universe.

BikeShare will never work in Pittsburgh. Or maybe it will, but only in downtown. Nobody on the Northside would ever use it, where would they go?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Scouting Ride, Transit Trails

Sun 6/7 24m
Sunday I started out at the Bastille, crossed the 6th Street Bridge, then did something I've wanted to do for a while - rode Bigelow Blvd from downtown out to Oakland. It was a nice ride, a persistent climb but no redundant grade.

Went to the Coffee Mocha on Baum to meet up with some FlockFolkx. Nice building, really clean, great great air conditioning. Had my first iced coffee of the year.

Received an envelope in the mail from Madison County (Illinois) Transit. What's novel is: they view bike trails as transit assets. The Transit Agency runs the trails. Wowsa. They produce a really great map, you could get your own map here.

Great 412Flock meeting. Flock is doing several bridge-building rides this year - Cinco de Mayo, Rainbow Ride during Gay Pride Week, a Labor Tour, a Día de Muertos ride, the Channukah Ride - and I really appreciate that. To me, it's the bicycle version of #NextBurgh.

Departed and rode a segment of Friday's Rainbow Ride. 24 miles.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

so, with the June again?

5.31 Sunday 11m
6.02 Tues 41m
6.06 Sat 14m
Sunday I got to ride with a group from Iteris which is a company developing software to optimize traffic lights (the red-yellow-green kind). Their software "tags" cyclists and pedestrians and allows the smart system to modify the sequence to optimize car, cyclist, and pedestrian flows. We had a nice ride around town, 11 miles. We got rained on and they all rolled with it, good group.

Double-bonus because I got to see Charlie F and grandson on a tandem. The stoker looked like he was having a lot of fun.

Tuesday I rode with a group of cyclists, 3 Brits and a Virginia along with R. We met at their Waterfront Hotel, and they wanted to ride into Pittsburgh and then out again to West Newton. I was so pleased at that, too often (imo) folks don't want to add the extra miles in to the city (and then back out) but this gang was up for it.

In Point State Park, we saw an installation of beds and blankets and dogs titled "Confluence", by Fernando Orellana.

The beds invoke the military and force by representing an Army field hospital. The grass represents a cemetery plot, and a deceased person unlikely to return home. The blankets refer to the smallpox blankets distributed by the US. The dogs are waiting for their humans. It's a homage to people killed in conflict.

After we came out of Point State Park, I had the inspiration to stop at the Steelworkers Building to check out the interactive diorama of the Battle of Homestead.

Unfortunately, it was repositioned for some lobby work and unplugged, but it still served as a good reference for the events. We reversed back to the Waterfront, and rode out to Boston PA where we sent them on their way. Very nice folks.

Thursday I attended an open house for Ohio River Trail Council. Good presentation, friendly room.

Saturday I rode with a Pittsburgh expat (left in '82) now living in Sacramento. They were amazed at the changes in the city. Saw this crew at Fred's statue in the former Manchester Bridge arch, busting out the Captain Morgan moves.