The prompt for today's ride was marking the one-year anniversary of Taylor Lee Banks' being killed by a driver in a hit-and-run. No charges ever filed; no public statements.
This is the route of the ride:
This was the scene at the courthouse:
After the ride, Y said he had not ridden around Beaver County too much, so he joined K and I for a ride. We rode the little-known Beaver Falls Bike Trail, shown in this map on the right and also in the video below (at double-speed)
Then we continued north, up the Geneva hill (aka College Hill) to Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea. This is a very nice coffee shop!
On Thursday I met my friend Y and we rode around for a while. Then he had a meeting, so I rode the just-Reopened Strip District trail. I poked a bit further along the Allegheny River than the actual trail permits, and came across the coolest little quiet yard in the back of Pitt-Ohio Trucking.
They probably can't uproot the tracks, but they've filled the tracks in with soft mulch and it's a wonderfully peaceful space.
I saw where the Penn Ave bike lane is being extended to Stanwix. Saw a sign, "bikes use vehicular signal" and I really didn't understand that, but friends have explained that some intersections have signs telling cyclists to use pedestrian signals so I guess this adds clarity.
This was really excellent coffee and a fun rollout event. Great to see the Pittsburgh coffee economy expanding.
This Coffeeneuring was free. Earlier this month in a Pittsburgh cyclist facebook conversation, there was a discussion w/Kitaira about scrounging free coffee at hotel lobbies, car dealerships, waiting rooms, etc. Bill suggested: free coffeeneuring as a theme, then TriciaC leveled-up to the elegant phrase cofFREEneuring. I think that might be my 2016 coffee theme: CofFREEneuring, scrounging 7 cups of courtesy coffee (no thefts!).
Wed 10.21 13miles
Fri 10.23 31miles
Sat 10.24 31miles
Wednesday I rode from the Bastille to Thick Bikes for a kickstand, and thence REI for some winter pants. Met Chris and Marko. Simple short ride.
Friday I drove out to Confluence with Karen. We parked at the town square. Stopped at Sweetie's after SarahP's strong recommendation re: cookies. Rode uphill to see the new Pinkerton Tunnel. Maybe it's just me, but the ribbed interior has that belly-of-the-whale aesthetic going on.
Had espressos at Rockwood Opera House. Very good. Rode further uphill. Just short of the Salisbury Viaduct, encountered a flock of rather noisy birds. Could not identify them, but my friend Yale tells me they are (1) birds and (2) turkeys.
Friday I learned about the death of a Pittsburgh cyclist. Daylight, clear skies, straight road; following the rules, waiting for the light to change. So pointless, so violent, so unnecessary except: cars.
Saturday we rode the reverse course from Meyersdale to Confluence. Since I hit the top of the hill in Meyersdale doing about 2.3mph, I noticed the new outdoor toolpost by the caboose. Once again, espresso's at Rockwood. There were quite a few people out on the trail. The foliage in this section has mostly fallen from the trees. Trail conditions were excellent.
Started off at the Bastille with my wife Karen. Rode through downtown and Oakland to an appointment. Kind of a brisk morning, about 43F when we started; pretty and clear weather. Near PPG Plaza we saw the beginnings of a protest march forming up; so cool to be in a city.
We rode out to East Liberty and I took Karen to see Olive & Marlow, purveyors of artisanal olive oils and balsamic vinegars (also, ice cream sandwiches). It's amazing to me that a store selling those two products exists in East Liberty. Also pleased to see two Pittsburgh bicycle police officers, pretty much hanging on a corner and talking with locals; very cool.
There is a pathology of large groups: they take longer to use the bathroom, longer to get seated and served in a restaurant, and the odds of one person having a problem increases with the size of the group. Just like: multi-engine airplanes have more engine problems than single-engine airplanes.
This was Day2 of a weekend group ride, with 14 cyclists, and it was good to have a van staged at the overnight. One of the riders had an eye infection and needed to skip the return trip. Another rider wasn't feeling well but decided to ride anyway. It was great to have the resource present to give people choices to make.
It was a cold and snowy morning. There was no graupel /sleet /freezing-drizzle ambiguity; it was just snowing out. Between Saturday and Sunday, this was a Rule9 weekend. I'm so impressed at the folks in the group.
Rather than stopping to smell roses and take photos, we pretty much decided to ride fast and skip the blue herons and group lunch. Karen and I were off the front, so we stopped in at Fisher's Cafe in Peninsula Ohio for French Onion soup and coffee (Coffeeneuring 2015-5 for me, 2015-3 for Karen).
When we came out and got back on the trail, I figured we were behind the group but thought we'd catch them. Then I had a front flat tire. This was a bit of a puzzle; I found the hole in the tube but couldn't find the cause. Then my newish pump didn't seem to be working, and I was saved by my CO2 backup.
We got to the Botzum trailhead just as everybody else was closing up their cars. Great ride, good company, Type1 fun. Also it was a great weekend for shaking down the cold weather gear.
This weekend involved the annual Family Reunion Bike Ride of the Cleary Clan; always a fun time.
Our plan was to ride the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail from just north of Akron to just south of Lake Erie. Our plan was that on Saturday, the group would park vehicles at the Botzum Trailhead 2730 Riverview Rd, Akron, OH 44313, stop in Peninsula Ohio for lunch, and leave the trail at the Rockside Trailhead 8196 Rockside Rd, Independence, OH 44131. It's 20 miles on the trail, and another mile from the northern trailhead to our hotel.
In an attempt to do logistics, Karen and I started out quite early and drove to the northern trailhead, parked our van, and hopped on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for $3 each (bikes included!) The CVSR ferried us and our bikes to the Botzum Trailhead, where the ride was to start. This park-north, train-south, bike-north was a really terrific way to approach the ride.
The front of the train, which was a half-dozen cars for travelers with reservations, was sold out. The last two cars are kept open for cyclists only. You never need a reservation. You can stand at any of 20 train stations, wave at the train, and it will stop for you and carry you on your way. Absolutely tremendous.
Although the front of the train was Sold Out, there was a lot of room in the bike cars and I indulged in bikespreading, a new variation of manspreading on trains.
They distribute a really great trail map. It's abstracted to the point that it only shows the trail, the trailheads, and train station. I love this map.
This is a video of our karass getting started at BostonStoreStation.
This is a video of our party exiting the trail to transition into Peninsula, Ohio
After lunch, we got back on the trail and the weather turned a bit bitter. I couldn't tell if it was freezing drizzle, or melting sleet. Anyway, it was cold and wet and reduced the visibility a bit. At times it seemed like snow, at times it seemed like lumpy rain. It was Drizzle Fo'Shizzle, although I think the most-correct term is Graupel
Graupel (English /ˈɡraʊpəl/), also called soft hail, snow pellets or 'sago' is precipitation that forms when supercooled droplets of water are collected and freeze on a falling snowflake, forming a 2–5 mm ball of rime. The term graupel comes from the German language.
Graupel is distinct from hail, small hail and ice pellets: the World Meteorological Organization defines small hail as snow pellets encapsulated by ice, a precipitation halfway between graupel and hail. The METAR code for graupel is GS.
By the time the group got to the north end, folks were cold and wet and several had enjoyed enough of it, so it was great to have the van pre-positioned and we used it to shuttle some folks up the hill to the hotel.
This was the monthy 412Flock ride, with a hint of Halloween theme and a possible CosPlay appearance from the Japanese-American Society.
It was raining lightly until just before the ride. Angela appeared in a unicorn outfit and Drew appeared in an anime kit, but that was the extent of the costumery - although it must be said that cyclists often affect a costume of their own.
I towed the music cart for the ride. We didn't have a playlist, but Ray suggested The Cramps who have a horror-movie / scifi sound and it worked well.
While Thursday was a ride of expected conflict that never appeared, Friday's ride was an anticipated milk-run that turned into a bit of unexpected agita. Several drivers overtook and passed us in very aggressive maneuvers; they certainly gave us 3 feet of clearance, and they crossed the centerline to do that, but they did it with oncoming traffic approaching. They gunned their engines and put others at risk, all in order to stop at the next red-light a minute or two ahead; now that they were in front of us, their position was perhaps forty feet further along than if they'd stayed behind us.
One man pulled abeam our group and starting yelling at us. Then he pulled over and stopped in front of us, engine running and headlights on. He shouted back at us, and M. quite wisely said I don't need to get in front of that car. So we waited, then he pulled off.
We continued along to Free Ride, which was having a going-away party for one of their staffers. It was a nice group and a friendly room, but the agitation of the aggressive passing and the shouting drive stayed with me for a while.
I got started very early, in Mount Oliver at about 0600. Rode through Carrick and Brentwood to arrive at the McDonalds on Banksville Road at Route 51 at about 0620.
By 0730 I'd been jointed by StuS, PaulH and Marko. Our goal was to ride Route51 from Brentwood to the West End Circle, which has been considered as a very bike-unfriendly section of a major stroad. One cyclist had been told by a gendarme that cycling wasn't allowed on Route51. So this was a sort of freedom of navigation exercise.
Funny thing was, the ride went as smooth as could possibly be; it was very pleasant. The road was recently paved. Everybody played really nice. Before I expected it, we were at West End Circle where Paul took this photo:
Then we rode across the West End Bridge. This bridge has a sidewalk, which leads to a three-flights staircase; bike fail so we took the lane. Coming off the bridge and stopped at a red light, a driver in an adjacent Mercedes rolled down the window to assert, that's not right, it's just not right.
I said, Excuse me? What's not right? He explained that us taking the lane and slowing down cars wasn't the right thing to do.
I said, We're both entitled to use that bridge. He said, But I pay for that bridge. I said, hey I pay for that bridge, too. I'm not bothering you about your using it, why are you bothering me? Don't bother me.
And he shrugged and rolled up the electric window. He wasn't mean or vulgar, he just engaged in conversation at a red light. I disagree with him, but he was a gentleman and civilized.
If they want me on the sidewalk, I'll ride on the sidewalk - when the sidewalk transitions to a ramp and not a three-story staircase.
Rode to GTBR. Thence to Big Dog for pourover coffee and to spend an hour. When it turned 11:00 I rode out onto East Carson Street. I happened to see a man gluing a poster up on a storefront and it turned out to be @ClohnArt, which is very cool.
I rolled over to Thick and picked up a small item I'd ordered. On the way back I tried to spot the street number of the place with the poster, but the poster wasn't there anymore. Later a tweet from @ClohnArt explained that the police had stopped and made him take the poster away. It's too bad, it was attractive and brighted up the space. I hope it ends up in a good spot.
Rode back up 18th Street which is always fun, to Mount Oliver.
Another beautiful fall day, the sort of Western Pennsyltucky climate that I love.
I felt very utilitarian as I loaded up my panniers for some errands. I biked to the local drug store and made a purchase. I biked to the Post Office and womp-womp-womp-womp: the Post Office is locked!
It's Columbus DayNational Look What We've Done Day except we don't want to look at it, so we mumble Indigenous People's Day but I would really prefer the Canadian elocution of First Nation's Day. But nobody asked me.
But this is kind of a threshold event for me, because I had no frontal-lobe awareness of the fact that it's a federal holiday, and pre-retirement the timing of federal holidays was a very important thing to me. To the point where, most federal employees know exactly how many US Presidents are still alive, because you get a day off when they die. (Carter, Bush41, Clinton42 as we may soon be referring to them, Bush43, and Obama.
That's five days off, sitting on the shelf, just waiting to be used. A true hound-dog federal employee would always prefer one-term Presidents, just to maximize the potential holiday pay.
I choose to interpret the fact that I wasn't thinking about the Federal Holiday as a sign that I have more fully transitioned into Retirement. Breathe in, breathe out, cough like a geezer.
Since the Federal Govmint was closed in a ritual celebration of looting and genocide to make a clear space for the slave trade, I turned to the free market for my next destination and rode to Bruster's Ice Cream in Bridgewater to contemplate this turn of events. Then I rode to Bridgewater Crossing and caught some rays in what is sure to be a future field of gentrification.
Rode back to the Rez, stopped at Starbucks for a cold water refill, so much goodness.
Today was a magnificent fall day: bright, blue skies, no wind.
Started at the Bastille, rode past the start point of the 321 Ride which was just forming up. Seemed very well organized and there were signs all over the course.
Coming across the Ft.Duquesne bridge I picked up a piece of glass in my front tire. Heard it, pulled it out after a few rotations. I thought I'd dodged a bullet, but shortly thereafter I was flat. I need to get Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires for this new bike and stop with the nuisance flats.
Took a group of CMU grad students out on a tour. Riding through the SouthSide we took the designated detour around the new at-grade crossing at the Frank Bryan concrete plant
We used the official detour because the generally-used previous route has been blocked by somebody who seems to have a pent-up need to say, "nanny nanny boo-boo, follow the rules!"
It was a serendipitous pleasure was seeing a long-time colleague, TommyH, walking along McKean Street with his wife. It was a surprising place to see him, people generally just stroll through there. Thirty years ago when I reported to Pittsburgh, Tommy was one of the old-timers. He's still there! More than 50 years of government service. Among the older bunch his nickname was The Whale but I never knew why.
As we crossed the Smithfield Street bridge we picked up two lost transients who were trying to find Point State Park and told them: follow us. That worked well.
I think the high point was riding under the Convention Center (fortunately, the rainbow waterfalls were operating; I will miss that this winter).
Then we rode inbound on the Penn Ave bike lane, where I chanced to see Stu working an intersection for the 321 Ride, rocking a videocam on a chest harness. I dropped off the tour group and they seemed to have had a good time.
Rode to the Point again. It was so nice and sunny I hung out catching rays for a while. But #Coffeeneuring calls, so I got back on the bike and rode out to La Prima Espresso on 21st Street at Penn.
I sat outside at one of several tables. There was an interesting bunch of folks, including a few tables of older Italian men playing cards and making small-talk. You could probably get a leg broken by somebody they know; it might be your leg, it might be somebody else's leg, you'd have to find out.
There was a great two-person band playing on the steps of the closed bank next door to Enrico's Biscotti. Unfortunately, there was a road closure on Penn Avenue and several drivers needed to honk and yell at each other, which kind of confirmed riding the bike to get coffee. Quite a bit of agita.
Started early-ish at the Bastille with Karen. As we rode inbound approaching the casino, two opposite direction cyclists with loaded bikes passed by, asking is this the way to Cumberland MD??
In fact, it's the exactly wrong way (or at least a very long right way) so we offered directions. One of the two gents almost wasn't sure we were correct, so we led them across to Point State Park and pointed them in the right direction. Two retired CoastGuard-ers from the Outer Banks, nice folks.
Rode east along the Allegheny to Millvale, stopped at Pamela's Pancakes for strawberry crepes because: Pamela's. I think we got there just before the Saturday morning crowd appeared.
Departed and crossed the 40th Street bridge. Poked across Lawrenceville to Butler and 54th Street, where we found Caffe d'Amore, a fairly new coffee shop with a well-experienced proprietor. There's been a Caffe d'Amore in the Public Market for a while, and this standalone brick-and-mortar is the next phase.
I had a pour-over promising hints of cigar and vanilla. It was amazing. K had a Honduran pour-over which was also very good. Coffeeneuring report: 10/10/2015, Caffe d'Amore, 5401 Butler Street Pittsburgh, 25 miles, pourover coffee. Bike friendly (bike rack outside, very cool w/cyclists). Recommended.
The chalkboard discloses they carry "shrub" which I only learned about in the last few weeks, when I also learned about it's fellow-traveler squash. (Thanks, ETRT!)
We rode Penn inbound to town, using the bike lane and then transitioned across to Golden Triangle Bike Rental where we rented a tandem and took it down to SouthSide and back. It was an interesting ride, there's a lot off things to coordinate when - as on the Hot Metal Bridge - you're simultaneously turning, descending, coasting and braking.
Back to GTBR, then back to the NorthSide. The Pitt game was in progress so there wasn't much stadium traffic on the trail. A very nice day, 25 miles.
We started on the southish end at Botzum Trailhead and rode north. Quite a bit of wetlands for the first few miles, and it was foggy and a bit chilly. Kind of perfect weather, but the trail has a lot of gentle turns and twists - it's meandering rather than technical - but there's not a long sight line, so we ended up riding a bit of single-file. #FirstWorldWhines #AlsoNoWifi
The trail flattened out and the surroundings became very much like the C&O Canal Trail - there was a trail, a lot of green trees and canopy, a lot of nature, an adjacent watered canal (mostly clear, sometimes green) and a roadway nearby.
The trail surface was unlike the C&O and quite like the GAP Trail. There's also a train track, but this train supports the trail; cyclists can flag down the train at any of several stations and ride back to wherever for $3. Great capability.
We rode north to Rockside Station, scouting for an upcoming group ride. Departed the trail for the sprawl and concrete. There was a surprising bit of a climb coming out of the valley. Lunch at Panera's and reversed course. A very nice ride, great weather, good company.
Two bike activities today: riding and working on my bike-lighting given the shortening daylight.
I started at 18th Street/ SouthSide River Front Park. Hot Metal Bridge to the Point. It was such a pretty day that I kicked back on the stonework and chilled for an hour. It was almost beach weather, sunny and 70F. I like Pittsburgh's fall (and spring) weather so much.
Departed Downtown via Second Ave, took the 10th Street Bridge, stopped at Thick Bikes to order a small piece: a cadence magnet for the crank arm. Continued back to River Front Park.
Light-wise, I ordered and received a new battery and charger for my tail light, which is a Design Shine DS500(build 3). This is the brightest tail light I've ever seen. It generates between 60 and 800 lumens (for daylight use). They're currently out of stock but expect more in October.
People familiar with the DesignShine seek ways to describe the brightness. One owner made this video to contrast the DS with the rising sun (drivers pointed at the sun often use that as a reason for running over cyclists)
I bought an MJ-6038B battery, which is a 7.4V li-ion unit with 5600mAH. I've had the light running for about eight hours now at full strength and it's still going full blast. Very impressive. I usually get two years out of one of these batteries, and I try to get a new one at the start of winter riding.
For my headlight I'm running the Cygolite Expilion 850 which retails for around $140. I like the light and the mounting bracket a lot.
I think lights and tires are two areas where it makes sense to buy really good equipment. It's wonderful using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and just not getting flats, and it's really nice to have sufficiently bright lights to see where you're going and to be seen by drivers.
Today started off as a cold, dismal, rainy Saturday and later in the day it stopped raining. I started at the Bastille, met a few friends on the trail, then rode over to Thick Bikes to pick up a rear-view mirror I'd ordered. Thick Bikes has hosted a coffeeneuring session earlier in the morning, I think that's so very cool of them.
I saw Bob-H and sang Happy Birthday to Maggie and him. They had a negative experience with deep soft gravel on the Southside Trail, which is sporting some railroad improvement work.
Rode to Big Dog Coffee 2717 Sarah Street, SouthSide Pittsburgh for a Mocha Blanca: white chocolate caffeine goodness. #Coffeeneuring 2015-01 on Oct.3 2015, 28 miles. So excellent.
Coming across the Hot Metal Bridge I overtook a wedding party and photobombed the picture taking:
I was involved in escorting a large group on a cycling tour, it was an impressive lineup of bikes:
As we transitioned from the NorthShore Trail onto Washington's Landing via the switchbacks, I got to photobomb my second wedding party of the day:
One of our groups went through the southside and A. had a harsh experience with the soft gravel at 2nd Street.
Met my friend R at Montour MP24. We rode through the National Tunnel, the new bridges at Tandem Connection, and out to Valleybrook Road - for the first full day of the soft opening of the Valley Brook Road #2 bridge.
Rode out to Starbucks for caffeine. Busy place. Continued eastbound on the Montour Trail to scope out next week's closure on the Arrowhead Trail between Sugar Camp Rd and Brush Run Road; it was well marked. Kind of cool that Peters Township is doing the resurfacing.
Reversed and went back across the Valley Brook Road bridges. So awesome.
Met Ron-P from Hopewell, riding from DC back to home. This is the flaw in Allegheny County's bike routing: from the GAP in McKeesport, Ron-P was riding the Montour all the way around to Coraopolis and RouteA back to home, because there's no way to get from Station Square to Coraopolis. You'd think they'd want a transient cyclist to pass through the economic break-basket.
Rode out to check the Route 50 bridges and road realignment. Absolutely brilliant. Still under construction.
Back in the car, into Pittsburgh to take a Coffeeneuring poster to Cafe d'Amore. They already had one! So very cool.
Dropped off posters at 61B (and 61C). Met Yale and rode to Taza D'Oro to deliver another poster. Yale took me to see Olive & Marlowe which is an amazing little boutique selling olive oil and vinegar. Took a loop around Highland Park. Great day for cycling.