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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Panhandle Trail: Bikes, Breakfast, Beer

Dec.31, 2016 25m
Dec eom:266 2016 eoy:3079
I was fortunate today to meet KC at McDonald and we rode out on the Panhandle Trail together. We had hoped for a bit of snow and there was just a little bit as we rode west on the paved trail in Washington County.

We rode to Burgettstown and Walden's Family Restaurant for coffee and breakfast. Excellent as always. When we came back out, I opted to let some air out of my tires because it had been a wee bit slippy on the first leg.

I think I let out too much air, because the tire was pretty flat and it was a lot of work to move the bike. Finally, just south of the Cataney Airfield, we stopped so I could I pump some air back into the tire and cycling became fun again. #LearningCurve

We continued beyond McDonald, into Allegheny County where the trail is unpaved and had a bit more snow on the surface, which was closer to what we were hoping for. We rode to Oakdale and stopped at trailside Helicon Brewing, which does indeed have bike parking thank you very much!

Back on the bikes, back to McDonald in a bit of sleet-snow that left us convinced we were getting off the trail at the right time. A nice way to end the year, with a bike-breakfast-beer outing.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

new and improved Mythic Source

Thurs Dec.29, 2016 16m
Dec mtd:241 ytd:3054
Parked the car in Millvale. Rode to Tupelo Honey Teas, to get a resupply for home. Excellent shop, nice people. Saw an interesting map from the Pittsburgh Tea Association:

That's got to be kind of a textbook demonstration of how Bike Access Matters. Put in a parking lot at a bike trailhead. Install sharrows and "bikes may use full lane" signs. New shops open. A cyclist from 20 miles away parks, bikes to a local shop, shops and spends.

Rode along the North Side. Passed through the rebuilt Allegheny Landing almost without realizing: hey it's open! it's smooth! It's much better.

This lower monument is called Mythic Source by Ned Smyth. It's the companion piece to Piaza Lavoro just up the hillock, which is probably the Pittsburgh's biggest collection of naked people in public art (possibly followed by Joy of Life, by Virgil Cantini)

Rode Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt Bridge, first time I've done that in a while. Encountered PaulH and YaleC.

Stopped at Thick Bikes to look at and agonize over pedals. I need pedals on my LHT, can't decide. They have some new frame stickers, I really appreciate their spirit. They also have just acquired some cloth patches, suitable for attaching to panniers and bags n'at:

Rode to Big Dog Coffee. Pourover with two shots of espresso. Amazing.

Rode back via Eliza Furnace, Stanwix, Penn Ave bike lane. I think Stanwix will be a challenge to the Ft.Pitt Blvd bike lane project. Crossed the 16th Street Bridge, rode the trail to Millvale.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chanukah 5777: Fifth Annual Pittsburgh Handlebar Hanukkah Bike Ride

Wed Dec.28 2016 36m
Dec mtd:225 ytd:3038
I started off in Homestead, PA today (btw, I recommend Homestead: The Glory and Tragedy of an American Steel Town, by William Serrin. Met some folks at the former Homestead High School, which was a Federal Works Agency project back when FDR was interfering with the free market:

Rode into the Waterfront, which is like a wealthy oasis behind a moat, separated from the town. Met YC, and we rode out to Boston PA. Took the McKeesport Loop outbound, and the GAP proper inbound.

Rode to the Hot Metal Bridge, up to Oakland, out to Squirrel Hills and met up with the Chabad Chanukah Parade for the Fifth Annual Pittsburgh Handlebar Hanukkah Ride. I mean, a festivel of lights? Donuts and latkes? That's got bicycles written all over it.

This is some video Stu took while we were waiting at Shady and Forbes for the cars to pass in front of us, so that we could fall in behind them:

I was apprehensive about this year's ride. The first four years, the motorcade (and bike contingent) mostly rode around the plateau on top of Squirrel Hill and ended in Schenley Plaza. This year, the caravan starts in Oakland, crosses Squill, and then crosses Greenfield (in which Chabad has grown) and descends Brown's Hill Road to Homestead and the Waterfront. I didn't think the bikes would be able to stay on the back of the cars, and I was apprehensive about bringing a large group unprotected on Brown's Hill Road and the Homestead Gray's Bridge.

It worked out. We did become separated from the caravan, there was some mishegas with non-participating cars in the evening rush hour. I'm glad we didn't have 75 cyclists - although with 75, maybe it would have had a different dynamic.

The main motorcade backed up entering the Waterfront, and we rejoined for the last half-mile. No injuries, no drama, a safe night ride. As Ben said, The light rolls on through another year!

Link: Pittsburgh Orbit on Menorah Mobile's and what measures up.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

MMM... Crossing some sort of a low-threshold which seems even less significant in roman numerals

Dec.25, 2016 25m
Dec mtd:189 ytd:3002
It was a fairly mild afternoon, around 38F, and it was a Christmas Steelers game so the streets were pretty quiet.

I needed 23 more miles to cross 3000 miles for the year, which seemed like some sort of a quantum level, so I rode from the Residence out to Moon Township and back. Got back in the dark. I'm sure some of the drivers thought: crazy guy got a bike for Christmas.

I have a page where I track my annual mileage but I'm not really a person who plans his miles, and I suppose that's why I don't really achieve them.

2016: 3002 miles
2015: 2872 mils
2014: 5839 miles
2013: 5525 miles
2012: 7044 miles
2011: 4511 miles
2010: 2004 miles

2009: Don't tell.
2008: Don't ask
2007: 300 miles

2006: 2796 miles
2005: 2484 miles

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Squirrel Hills and Eagle Lake

Thurs Dec.22 2016 22m
Dec mtd:164 ytd:2977
Started today at SouthSide Riverfront Park. Rode over to Golden Triangle Bike to pick up some supplies; back to Southside, then out to Shadyside.

I think I've got the pogies (Cobrafist from 45Nrth, which just sounds like the name of a Bruce Lee movie) dialed in. I had some problems with the foam inserts, and keeping the pogies wrapped around the inserts. I had a cobbler stitch some velcro to the inside cuff of the pogies, and attached some opposite-velcro to the foam inserts, and now it seems pretty ship-shape.

Rode across Squirrel Hill, which - I think - is actually a series of Hills. I may start referring to the locale as Squirrel Hills. They're redding-up for the Holidays, too.

Took Murray Ave and Browns Hill Road (which is phonetically just too close to Brownsville Road) to Homestead, then took the trail to Sandcastle and Eagle Lake. Eagle Lake (kudos Paul H) is the area below the Keystone Metals eagle viewing platform, which has been flooded for a recent while.

Stopped at Big Dog Coffee, which I haven't visited for a while. Some very nice dogs were visiting. Major coffee excellence going on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bikespreading in Aspinwall

Dec. 20, 2016 25m
Dec mtd:142 ytd:2955
I am getting better at the ECR thing, although today in two separate events I smacked my handlebars into the rear-view mirrors of cars - one parked, one while filtering through stopped traffic. I do need to improve at that.

I parked my car in Millvale. Rode out to Aspinwall, where there's some feelings and signage about where the access road to a new bike park is going to be.

I thought about editing the sign to the effect of: ROADS you can't TEXT in them, you can't CALL in them, you can't KILL in them but I'm just exhausted in terms of political discussion.

You've heard of manspreading?

This is what bikespreading looks like:

Departed A-wall, rode into downtown. Out the Jail Trail, Junction Hollow, saw a woman practicing long kicks into the soccer net. Why don't soccer fields come with ball returns like bowling alleys? Rode Oakland, Shadyside. Seen: TR. Penn Ave, Allegheny Cemetery (deer!), 40th Street Bridge, back to the van just before sunset.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Three Frozen Cables

Dec.19, 2016 39m
Dec mtd:118 ytd:2930
It was like 18F when I strapped my ECR onto the back of my Honda Odyssey. Opened the side door, dropped in my pannier, closed the door and bounce! - door wouldn't close. Tried it a few times, door wouldn't close. I thought: this happened once before in really cold conditions. Let me look at the other door, to see what the position of the latches should be.

Opened the other door. Inevitably, now I've got two doors that won't close. Turned out, my car had been sitting for three days of cold moisture, then the door cables froze. A bit of running the car and slamming doors and I was good to go.

I met YC at the Swinburne Street trailhead. We rode out onto the GAP. At the Valley of the Shadow of Death, near the Eagle Nest Observation Zone, there were some deep puddles of water. I walked ahead thinking: hey, waterproof Merril boots, no problem. Come to find out: waterproof means rain, it doesn't mean impervious to walking in five inches of water. My feet were soaked.

We rode out toward Boston PA, taking the McKeesport Loop. Stopped in Zach's Bike shop, where I saw the owner's bike with heated hand grips by AME. Most excellent.

Continued to Boston and went a few miles out on the GAP proper. Saw new mile marker 126. My front derailleur cable had frozen in place, and I was unable to shift onto the small ring. I had picked up an accumulation of snow and moisture that was like cement on the frame the the derailleur mechanism. I'm going to have to look at shielding the mech, or maybe identifying some sort of ice-preventing lube. It serves me right; I should have realized that two frozen cables on my van were an indication of conditions.

We had planned on riding to West Newton and it seemed like conditions were conducive, but my left foot was soaked and it was fairly cold out, like 25F, so I opted to exercise judgement.

This was really a nice day: a bit of sun, no wind, 25F. It makes me wonder about all the days I skipped because it was only 45.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ECR second snow ride

Dec.14, 2016 16m
Dec mtd:79 ytd:2891
Thursday, I parked the car in Shadyside. Ran some errands, rode the ECR to Keystone Metals on the SouthSide Trail. Really enjoyed the ride in the snow, especially where there was a bit of undisturbed snowfall. The bike needs pogies, though, in temperatures this low.

I was pleased to see that the Gift-Giving for the homeless folks is underway again, this photo is on the SouthSide trail under the 10th Street bridge:

I've been doing some studying on what tire pressure to run for the snow. Seems pretty clear that you can't set the pressure inside (a heated building) and then consider that reliable outside. This link seems to offer a scientific approach, or at least a quantified approach - which for me, results in {31 front, 33 rear} for normal road riding, {11 front, 12 rear} for packed snow or dirt, and {8.5 front, 9.5 rear} for soft snow.

Rode over to a public meeting about the Ft.Pitt Blvd Bike Lane, connecting the GAP Trail from Smithfield Street to Point State Park. I thought the city planning staff did a lot of good work, and they also did a good job of running a contentious meeting (with property owners objecting to the loss of car parking spaces for the bike lanes).

Rode back to the car after the meeting, this time with chemical handwarmers in my gloves. Big difference.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Squirrel Hill Tunnel

Dec.10 2016 3m
Dec mtd:63 ytd:2875
Achievement unlocked! The inbound Squirrel Hill tunnel was closed due to construction on the nearby Greenfield Bridge, which to a certain category of people seems like an opportunity.

It was a very cold morning, and Forward Avenue was quite slippery. At the base of Walnut Tower, there's a parking area providing access. Apparently, the PennDot webcam recorded our entry and played it for the folks at home.

Fun ride, and intrepid company.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Gifts for The Cyclist In Your Life (#TCIYL)

The Post-Gazette runs a Gifts for Cyclists column today. It's great they see cyclists as a large enough group to justify the effort. The P-G suggestsThese are good products, great shops, and   I completely endorse the Support your Local Bike Shop Approach . If you want the Bike Shop to be there for you, then you've got to be there for the bike shop. BikesOnline.com is not going to help you figure out that noise in your bottom bracket.

for the GAP and C&O riding cyclist in your life:

finally lights are usually a safe bet, from your Local Bike Shop.

  • Head Light: Cygolite Expilion 720 USB Light (or the 850)
  • Tail Light: Cygolite HotShot Pro 150 USB (or the 100)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

40? Sure 55? Meh!

Mon Dec.5 2016 18m
thur 12.8 18
Dec mtd:60 ytd:2872

Monday, 40F, I met GC in McDonald and rode the paved Pandhandle Trail to Walden's Restaurant, trailside in Burgettstown. Omelettes, coffee: perfect. The weather was great. When I go out riding in 40F and have a good time, I regret all the days I passed on days of 55 because of some fickle sense of insufficient warmth.

Which brings to mind Yehuda Moon (hat-tip Monica):

Wednesday, I came across a tweet from somebody who has a few of these vests. "I need one", I said. We worked out a PayPal thing and it's on it's way. (I got the Honk if you like bikes version). You could reach out to @EthicalPaul on Twitter if you're interested.


Thursday I took my van to the shop. Rode home without my Buff in 20F, very cold. Later in the day I rode (with my buff, this time) over to Rochester and back; very comfy. It's amazing the changes that little bits of equipment can make.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Questionable Neighborhood

Thursday Dec.1, 2016 6m
Friday Dec.2, 2016 18m
Dec mtd:24 ytd:2836
Thursday I rode around town and got a lot of errands done. Dropped things off, picked things up, very efficient on the bike.

Friday I rode from the Rez, to Beaver, to Rochester, and then home again. Crossing Bridge Street in Rochester, I realized I was in a Questionable Neighborhood. Maybe you can ask any questions you want here?