Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chute Noob- paying it forward

Today I had an opportunity to show a cyclist who's been living in the city for a few months how to negotiate The Chute. I noted he'd stopped along the Schenley Park/Panther hollow trail and was digging around in his pockets. I later learned he was looking at a map. He caught up to me just before the bike lane along Saline Street and asked for my help getting to the Jail Trail. Well, sure! Follow me! I explained the Inbound 2nd St/Outbound Chute unspoken rule and that some folks like to trespass over the tracks, he declined that route out of respect for trains and a distaste for trespassing and giving cyclists a bad reputation. He was frustrated that the map he had just didn't show all the odd levels and weirdness of The Chute as well as the lack of signage. I agreed wholeheartedly and expressed a hope that eventually, it would be 'fixed'.
He told me how he was from Columbia and still adapting to our climate. He said it was 80 degrees in Columbia today. It was in the 40's here with a misty drizzle all day long and I wasn't complaining for December.
Very nice to meet him and such good karma to show someone one of our most convoluted routes.

I spent the day making a loop around the city, checking out the new, unfinished bike lane from Millvale up to the 40th St Bridge. I observed from afar, I'm not ready to jump into that before it's completed.

I made the Whole Foods/REI/Marty's Market bathroom loop, enjoyed lunch of tofu, lentils and quinoa at Whole Foods and a quadshot latte at Marty's while reading the NY Times. Oddly enough: an article about butter in coffee caught my eye.

As if a quadshot latte wasn't enough to get my nerves going, I had this.
Seriously, I'm getting sick of this crap. The only reason I haven't landed on someone's hood (yet) is because I've learned to expect this nonsense. My 'this guy's going to be an idiot' senses go off at certain times. Someday, my asshole clairvoyance will betray me.

21 miles closer to 4000.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jingle Bells: blending in and getting squashed

Today was cold and gloomy, but good enough to ride.

I'd received a new pair of Swift panniers yesterday and this was my first ride with them. I'd needed a set of small panniers for the front and these are perfect.  I also love how easily I can mount and remove them from the rack. It's like they were made specifically for a Surly Nice rack. They also grip so firmly to the rack with the bungee hook that I don't worry that they'll fall off. They're made of an incredibly thick waxed canvas and I chose a hi-viz pink for the pockets. Love them.

Note the bells hanging from the mirror...more on those later.

The morning started out with yet another encounter with a 5K run. This time it was a Christmas-themed run called the Jingle Bell Run for arthritis.

Do I see a chicken amongst the reindeer and elves?

Having learned a lesson never to salmon in a 5K run, I went with the flow. The road was shut off to traffic, but I blended so well with my antlers... the runners were donning their 'gay apparel' and nearly everyone was dressed as elves, Santas, wearing red and green tutus or antlers.

I rolled through the city and trails out to the Waterfront (I'm getting really bored with this route) and back. I noticed the Steelers autograph seekers who camp at the training facility on the South Side suckered a player into signing some stuff. I'd mentioned to some people recently that I never see them actually snagging autographs but maybe the cold made the player sympathetic and decided to relent. I'm almost certain it was Rothlisberger who was in this truck that stopped.

I became disgusted when I rode past the Stadium later and saw that every banner has a rapist on all the lamposts. Yuck.

I was pedaling down East Carson and heading to Amazing Cafe for lunch when I lost one of the jingle bells that I had hanging from my mirror. It was promptly crushed by the Toyota behind me. It amuses me to no end to see it get crushed.

So, I'm less than 100 miles away from 4000 for the year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Sprinting" and not being last

I've found a Strava segment that I've been working on getting faster at: The Bridge Sprint
It's just a quick run from Downtown over the 7th Street bridge (AKA Andy Warhol Bridge).
I've managed to gain a PR of 48 seconds there. Not bad for an arthritic middle-aged chubby woman on a heavy bike with a messenger bag and less-than-aerodynamic panniers full of groceries. I'm pretty sure that's a division where I'll place high on the podium.
I like having short sprints to get the heart rate up. If I don't have these invisible races with no one, I'd just putter along at a slow amble and never burn as many calories as I should.

In the Women's leaderboard, I'm 25/82. Well, hey! I'm not in last place!

That's the extent of my competitiveness: being excited about not being in last place.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Night Lights and nice motorists

Pittsburgh is gorgeous at night. That is all.

I'd wanted to get some shots of the bike in the parking lot with my car's headlights simulating street conditions to get a sense of how well my reflective stuff worked. It didn't work out as I'd planned. #cameraproblems
So, instead... I was able to document the differences in a headlamp with a cutoff and one without.

A very bright headlamp with a cutoff

It lights the way very well.
I also have a headlamp with no cutoff and it is blinding:
Pointing ahead

Angled down a bit

Now, pointed directly in front of the bike:
Like so...

I wonder if taking the advice of those polite Canadians "Less Blink, More Glow" would be prudent. Perhaps making the bike more visible vs stabbing everyone around me in the eye with a harsh headlamp is a better option. I love the 'pulse' options of my rear/red lights and have stopped using the flash mode.

So far, no close passes while wearing the antlers. I had one impatient 'fat guy in a pickup', but he didn't buzz me when he had a chance to pass. I'm beginning to wonder if cyclists in Santa hats and other festive-ness protects one from angry drivers. It does bring out many a smile in passers-by and drivers.
The Santa Effect?
The Antler Condom?

Top Ten: things said to a cyclist with antlers

10. "Hahahahaha!"
9. "Nice!"
8. "Awesome!"
7. "That's hilarious!"
6.  "Love the antlers!"
5.  "Hey Rudolph!"
4.  "Look Mom, a reindeer!"
3.  "Christmas Spirit: you have it."
2. "There's a woman with a sense of humor."
1. "Can you fly too?"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Dirty Dozen spectating

Pittsburgh: land of hills n'at

Today was the Dirty Dozen: a race that hits 13 of the most gnarly hills in the Burgh. We've got some serious hills here; one of which is the steepest in the world.

I camped out on a picturesque spot on the Smithfield Street bridge and waited. I saw Su riding below the bridge and I was able to call her so we could meet later. I tried yelling down to her to get her attention, but I have a volume issue. I can only yell loudly when my life is in danger.

I got some nice shots, almost 300 in fact. There are around 300 riders, so that sounds about right.

I cannot imagine doing 2 of these hills in one day and not feeling serious repercussions, let alone 13. These folks have some legs. Wow.

Then Su and I were able to meet, she'd lost her pannier and needed an extra pair of eyes to look for it when backtracking. That sense of loss, that "Who has my stuff?" feeling: I hate it. I keep my wallet and keys in my pannier frequently, for me to lose that would be disastrous.
I still hoping some kind soul will Craigslist it.

When I got back to base, I wanted to check on the progress of the bike storage area. This is what I found:

They're building a room.... inside the room?

Ruby's virtually impossible to get out of the corner they put her in.

Maybe they're just using the bike storage area to build some outdoor (the slanted roof is my clue) storage shed? I can't wait for the construction to be finished and the bike abuse to stop.

Friday, November 28, 2014

You need a sense of humor when everyone is trying to kill you

On Wednesday, the office was blessed with a half day... this meant I could spend the rest of the day on the bike. Never mind that I had arrived at 5:30 to get all the work I needed to get done out of the way before the holiday weekend started, I wouldn't be too tired to bike or put off by the rain/snow mix!

I discovered that the Taco Truck was parking in the Strip today and my taco cravings started well before I made it over there. I found the truck and tried a plain cheddar/jack taco. So is the perfect size for me. I want to try all the exotic tacos they make.
I felt taco remorse when I saw that butternut/vegan taco.
Then this happened on the way back:

I've got two headlamps going and I'm in hi-viz. Why do you pull out in front of me?

Wandered about the city, met hubby for dinner on the South Side and returned in the dark.

I got a chance to use my new saddle cover

The tree at Point State park is a beacon. So's the bike.


Thursday was Thanksgiving and I didn't ride. I made sure I ate enough that burning calories the next day was necessary.


Friday is... the day after Thanksgiving when I believe that this is the earliest that Christmas decorations should be put up.
On went the antlers:

Fun fact: reindeer/caribou are the only species of cervids where both the male and female sport antlers. 
Mother Nature's cool with my antlers.

Friday is also Black Friday. The only shopping I did was at Thick when I took Fizz in to have the saddle looked and and have my brake rotors cleaned... they were squeaky/squeally since Wednesday.
Eric explained why the saddle kept creeping back and I was happy with the results.

I stopped for lunch afterwards at the Pub Chip Shop where they had a turkey meal with deep-fried balls of stuffing. Whoa. I'd never heard of such a thing and they sold me on it immediately. Amazingly good.

I then headed to the Strip for a caffeinated beverage and poke around. I walked into the shoppe with my helmet still on and overheard a man say to his friend: "Now, that's a woman with a sense of humor."
I won't disagree.
I got many shout outs and comments on the antlers from passers by all day long.

As I walked out with my latte, there appeared to be a police chase taking place. Officers running on foot, unmarked cars with lights and several other vehicles were all converging on someone.
I decided to wait until the speeding vehicles subsided before hopping back on the bike.

I had a pleasant conversation with a ClassyCab operator wearing a Santa hat who liked the antlers.

Then, a few blocks I'm waiting behind a truck at a light I'm noticing:
  • West Virginia/Nascar plates
  • Pickup Truck
  • Antler/dead deer decals all over the truck.
My thoughts are: "This is NOT a truck I want to be in front while I'm wearing antlers"
I laughed to myself and was glad I was behind this potential Hillbilly deer-killer menace.

Then things went horribly awry.

  • Salty language.
  • My I'm going to die! yell.

I spent the afternoon and evening wondering how I could have avoided that and blaming myself a great deal too.
I'm thankful the driver had the window down and could hear me screaming, otherwise I would have been a news item.
And there's my Thanksgiving tie in: I'm thankful to be breathing at this moment.

Yes, BikeSnobNYC... this is so true.