Monday, April 14, 2014

Unlocked: Advocacy and Bus Driver Goodwill

Back in August of last year, I wrote to the President of the Pittsburgh Pirates to ask if more bike racks could be installed at PNC park.

So, I waited a few months (is 8 months enough time?) and sent a follow up email to the Ballpark President, who Mr Coonelly had CC'ed.

His first response didn't look promising...

Then this arrived in my inbox!!

W00t! Happy Dance! I cannot WAIT to see those things installed!

In an effort to create goodwill with Port Authority bus drivers (where there is a terrible discord between them and cyclists), I made a decision on a few occasions to communicate directly and politley with the driver while at a light. In this instance, I let the driver go ahead of me.

Bus is picking up/dropping off passengers

I pull up next to the bus.

I note that there's a line of parked cars ahead of her, she will need to get into my lane after this light.
If we both go when the light turns green, she may cut in front of me and kill me, or if I manage to get in front, I'm the pain in the ass cyclist who is slowing her route. No wins there.

I smile and ask her though her open window if she'd like to get ahead of me. She's delighted.

I wait and everyone wins! (except the driver of the car behind me: too bad, pal.)
The weather is looking good for Friday Flock and the office closes early: time to get out and ride!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Doing good things... on bikes!

The morning was spent on a project Pinky coordinated asking cyclists to help clean up the several hundred pounds of glass, garbage and car parts all over the pedestrian walkways of our West End Bridge. Base is under the bridge, so this was a no-brainer: I'd spent the morning helping sweep glass and then embark on a ride.

Various pictures of the cleanup crew that included, srpit, Stu, Marko, Pistat and Pinky:

Photo pilfered from Stu

Pinky's photo of pounds and pounds of butts.

Pinky's shot of all the bags of waste.

I found some protractors while I worked:

While she was there on the bridge, I was able to give Vannevar's and srpits goody/thank you bags to her as a thank you from our non-profit for their help in taking down our route arrow markers

When we were finished about 2.5 hours later, I was ready to get on the bike. I tried my hand at the Gold Way/ Panther Hollow route again and missed my turn at Neville AGAIN. I think I'm concentrating on the horrible potholes there along Centre and I miss the street. Polish Hill is getting easier every time I go up there.

On the way through Schenley, I noticed my handlebar extender was very loose. It was thwacking my hand over every bump. The multi-tool I had wouldn't fit in the space needed to tighten it. I needed a set of allen wrenches. I recently misplaced my set, so I decided to head down to the Waterfront to Lowes (mega-big home-improvement place). I stopped at REI for the water fountain and bathrooms. It was a hot day by now and I was drinking a lot, but still not enough.  I sat, drank and ate fruit and Kind bars for lunch. REI does not carry allen wrench sets, BTW.

At the Waterfront, I decided to stop at the bookstore first and get the 2nd part of a an interesting trilogy of books that is a far cry from literature. I'm nearly finished with the first book. Sometimes fluffy brain candy books are good thing.

I caught my reflection in the windows there and I'm loving my new cycling skirts.

I need a full length mirror at home.

I worked my way down to Lowes and noted that there was no bike parking, in fact I would have been surprised if there were. One bike was already trussed up to a fake display fence. I broke a cardinal rule and looped my cable around a tree. Uck.

Sorry, tree. Can you forgive me?
 I looked everywhere for allen wrenches. It took 3 employees to find them too!
 I fixed my wobbly bar extender and I was back on the road. I was the only cyclist using the road too. The sidewalks were clogged with cyclists of all levels of experience. Everyone gave me plenty of clearance and I felt safer out in the road.  A strong headwind made getting back slow.

I'd forgotten sunscreen and now I have a bit of a burn. A cyclists' 'tan', I think: red knees, red forearms and red nose and chin. Aloe gel slathering time!

26 miles and a 2 hour broom workout, I'm pooped.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Walk, Bike, Hide

Saturday was the day of our Walk fundraiser. I biked there and back to the office, not too far, just 4 miles, but worth it to say to myself: "I'm getting PAID to ride my bike."

After a long day of working to herd 3500 people through lines and hauling boxes, I felt the insane notion to get on the bike. I also learned yet again, that no one can hear a 5 foot tall woman with a small voice shouting instructions in a large crowd; I really need a megaphone ...and a cattle prod.

It was warm and I wanted to try out the new saddle position I spent 45 minutes re-adjusting on Friday. I nearly injured myself trying to unfasten the bolt that was tightened with man-strength, but I was determined and tenacious. I was fed up with my saddle issues and needed to do something. I moved the saddle forward hopeful that it would help.

I"m reluctant to go out of doors in shorts, my legs are translucent white and not my best feature. I'd purchased some skirts to hide the shorts and the hideousness that is my thighs. I was surprised not to feel uncomfortable in the bike shorts and skirt. Co-workers told me they thought it was cute. Cool.

The saddle position seems to be a vast improvement! I can't figure out why suddenly one day it became painful, but I hope the adjustment works long term.

I headed over to Thick to see if a new helmet I'd ordered came in, but it wasn't. No loss, I got a nice 12 mile ride in on a lovely sunny day.

Where will I put the Pirates logo?

I need a cooler helmet in the summer, so I went with this white one with larger vents. The black one I use now is a sweat bucket when it's warm. Chris was surprised at the size I asked him to order, I have one of those abnormally large Irish heads. I need a special size.

Chris's wife was taking a break outside of Thick and said she liked my skirt too. Two compliments in one day? Cool.

On the way back I noted this giant spider on a house. Halloween is a year-round thing here, I guess!

16 miles wedged into a day of toil.

Friday, April 11, 2014

New roost = new routes

Tonight, we're going to look at a house. Hubby's bringing the checkbook just in case we really like it. With a move comes the potential for new places to ride. I like this.

I've already mapped out a route and checked out the rideabilty of roads near this house. I hope my exuberance doesn't jinx us. *crosses fingers* *knocks on wood* The path looked very good with the exception of crossing Rt19. No room on the side of the road there. Urgh.

I've amused myself that I find this a priority.

Weight loss:

Coming along nicely. I had to cinch my new riding pants with a belt today. The damned things were falling off. I can't imagine that riding with a belt will be comfortable, but the pants have beltloops, so I suppose folks do it.

Fitbit tells me I average 5.5 hours of sleep on weeknights. Shocking, I thought I was getting more sleep. How am I functioning? *takes a sip of coffee* Oh, never-mind.

A co-worker said to me in the hall today: "Speegs, you just keep getting tinier and tinier! Must be the bike riding!" 
I average 10 miles/11K steps per day, so that helps, yes.

That made my day.

However, something tells me that with the upheaval of a move, I'll be doing a great deal of stress eating.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#30daysofbiking and Fountain Firsties!

Here's some of the #30daysofbiking shots I've taken this week.

An emergency drill takes place at the ballpark

A landslide on Mount Washington.

Our non-profit's banner is up at Point State
Park for our Saturday Fundraiser

 I rode in the AM on  Thursday not knowing they'd be turning on the fountain for the first time this year just as I was riding up to it. FIRST!

I'd planned on riding after work because the weather was so nice. Not far into my ride, I ran into Terry and he turned around to chat as we pedaled aimlessly down to Millvale and back. Very nice of him,  it was nice to talk with the humorous Terry. The trails were packed an we spent much time dodging joggers, cyclists and walkers. We parted ways at Point State Park and I headed, again, aimlessly over to Station Square and beyond.
Beaver damage to trees
Gears and Gears

Wound up passing by OTB and there was a BikePGH! Free Lights table. Mike tried to give me free lights, but I'm pretty set in that department. Mike was very nice and we talked about my issues getting a bike rack at our office building.

I seem to have a smudge on my lens. Hmmphf.

Mike from BikePGH! mans the Free Bike Lights table at OTB
I took East Carson back to 18th Street... just because. I had a trail option, but decided on a different route back. Ah, Traffic Mettle.

I caught some nice shots of the sunset behind the fountain on my way back. I hadn't realized I was out riding for three hours. It felt like I'd just started and I wanted to keep going in the dark.

24 miles on a great but windy day.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Murals in a new light and re-learning a route.

The Pirates have introduced a new set of animated introductions for each player and they incorporate Pittsburgh's murals!

Here's the one they use for Andrew McCutchen:

It's the "The Two Andys" mural on Smithfield Street. Awesome stuff.

I spent Sunday breaking free from the house. Hubby was due to be extra cranky as he had to do a 36 hour fast before an invasive procedure on Monday that I would have to drive him home from. I'll leave that up to the reader's imagination.

Before I rode, I cleaned and re-lubed Ruby's chain, cassette and rear derailleurs with the ParkTool cleaner. I was kicking myself for letting it go so long as I noticed rust and a squeaking noise when I rode last. The rust is gone now and there are no squeaks to be heard.

As I started out, I noticed the Buffleheads were back! I had the good camera too! Only a few of the original 20 remained, but they bobbed about a bit before taking flight for me.

First, I wanted to learn the route from Oakland down to the Eliza Furnace trail on the South Side. Vannevar and S had shown me once before, but I needed to go at it alone to truly learn it. It's a complicated route, some of it is marked and the rest, you're left to fend for yourself. I didn't do too badly. I missed my Neville St turn but eventually got there backtracking via side streets. I wound up heading up Juno St before I realized I'd gone the wrong way and turned around.

I made it!

On the way there I got some shots along Gold Way of the Troll under the Bridge.

Someone gifted him a 40

Then I went to a new favorite restaurant. Amazing Cafe.
Black rice and veggie curry with a Clean Green to wash it down. Nom.
After lunch I headed past the Eagles nest and a plethora of cyclists out on the trail. Wow, it was crowded! I got to the Waterfront and stayed on the roads as suggested.

I needed something to read while waiting for Hubby's procedure tomorrow. I parked at Barnes and Noble's bike rack and headed in for the bathrooms and book heaven.

What should I get? Re-read a classic? Stimulate some brain cells?

Nah. I like the movies better.

Mindless fluff! Yes!

Then I headed back to the South Side and REI for the bathrooms, a rest and a drink. I was sucked in by a pannier I'm hoping will work for baseball game trips. I also got a new bell. The cowbell fell off on my ride today and the bell I was using was barely audible.

It doubles as a tote bag.

I saw all manner of bike on my travels today: a tandem recumbent, a tandem (that I was impressed to see take a tight turn on one of our switchbacks), lots of regular recumbents and even a disabled persons' bike:

On my way back there were more birders checking out the Buffleheads and I stopped to chat with them, we remarked at how gorgeous they were.

No beeps other than a thank you beep when I let someone pass on Gold Way which is a very narrow street. My ongoing saddle and numb fingers issues are grating on my nerves (pun intended). The new gloves helped lessen but not eliminate the numb fingers.
33 miles on a lovely day.