Friday, September 19, 2014

Park(ing) Day and Flock

Su, Marko and I met for a day filled of riding around to most of the Park(ing) Day spots located all around the City. We started at the Mayor's Spot, which was beach-themed.

Lifeguard duties.
Off we went to visit the Spots, there were a few interesting ones along Liberty Ave








Then off to Lawrenceville for the mini-golf overload.

We escorted Su back to her car and then we were off to the South Side.
The Pièce de résistance was Thick Bikes' Spot; Chrissy went all out with sod, trees, plants, audio of birds chirping. It was chock full of awesome. Bravo.



Chrissy explained that the gnome was mooning the car.



Marko and I were starving so he suggested tacos on Atwood. Delicious, but I forget that Mexican food frequently uses Sazón, which has MSG. Not awesome. I got a minor case of the dizzies.


Flock was essentially a tour of many of the new bike lanes, minus the Saline Street lane, which we'd used to get up to Oakland. I hadn't used the Schenley Lane yet, so this was a bonus for me!







We stopped at a grocery store to get some snacks to enjoy at the end of the ride at Point State park. Mikhail, having no panniers or bags on his bike asked me to carry a few items, and of course, I said yes! I'm a pack mule! I loaded Mikhail's purchases into my panniers and basket and we were off, but I guess I didn't secure his paper plates well enough... going through Lawrenceville, they leapt out of the basket and rolled through the street. The Fly6 camera captured it.

Interesting thing is, I had to lay the bike down to go retrieve the errant plates and this triggered the Incident Protection Function. This works when the Fly6 is tilted over more than 45 degrees for more than 3 seconds.




I started out the day talking with Su about leg cramps and dammit, I got a vicious bout of them in my thigh at the end of my night. I had to stop in the Penn Ave bike lane and stretch it out. My fellow Flockers asked if I needed help, but I told them I was just working out a leg cramp. Mick was kind enough to circle back and ride with me as the whole group was a few lights ahead by the time I'd gotten over the cramps.

The ride ended at the Fountain and I had to get going, it was a long day that started at 11:30 and took me 40 miles all over the city. So much fun with friends on a day off from work that I dedicated strictly to biking.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ohiopyle to the Pinkerton Tunnel

I drove an hour and half to get to Ohiopyle. I don't think I'd been out there since I'd gone trail riding with my ex-husband in the late 1990's and ridden a whole eight miles that day and was really proud of my accomplishment.

The drive there was harrowing: wicked fog!

It was much worse than this in places.
I got there before the throngs of kayakers, river-rafting and bike-rental folks arrived. These were the first cold days of the year. This morning it was in the 40's when I started and wow, I'm not used to that yet. I couldn't wait to get moving and warmed up, my layers weren't keeping me warm while I took the bike off the back of the car and loaded the panniers and necessities onto the rear rack of my Surly Long Haul Trucker. Eventually, around 11AM and 12 miles into the ride, it warmed up and I could remove the long pants and my layers.



You can see why I need a rack-mounted Fly6 with all the stuff I carry back there!



In Ohiopyle, there's a gorgeous rapids/waterfall.

Normally, I'm in the city and using the camera to capture motorists endangering my life, but today I employed it to help capture some of the the beauty of the Great Allegheny Passage, which is a 335 mile trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington DC. Cyclists spend several days to ride it. It's quite the feather in a cyclist's cap to ride the GAP to DC. Some riders camp and some take advantage of the many bed-and-breakfast places that have sprung up along the GAP to cater to the whims of cyclists taking on the adventure.



Would you believe I headed the wrong direction and started into the State Park instead of towards Confluence as I'd intended? The lovely bridges of the park tempted me and my bike just lead me to them. Eventually, I discovered I was going the wrong way and righted my direction. The bridges along the way are so scenic; here's a Fly6 perspective of all the bridges I encountered:



And here's some of the photos I took from those bridges:






I stopped in Confluence for lunch, which was actually breakfast, as Sister's Cafe come highly recommended for breakfast-y foods. Fried egg and bagel. Nom. Sister's Cafe was also the ONLY place I could pick up wifi and send a message to Hubby. Cell service was non-existent everywhere, even in Ohiopyle.


Being a city girl, I locked my bike. Discovering that nobody locks their bikes in Confluence, I felt rather silly with the overkill of a Kryptonite u-lock.



My end point was the Pinkerton Tunnel. There's an interesting story behind why this tunnel is no longer used. A friend of mine told me the story and you can read about it here: http://vannevar.blogspot.com/2011/06/nextgen-canal-train-tunnels-concrete.html

Hopefully, with enough donations, it can be re-opened, but until then, it will stay boarded up.



Now, just because there's a lack of cars on this trip doesn't eliminate dangers: imagine getting this railroad spike caught in your spokes?


 Or, landslides and falling trees?

I came across this recently cleared landslide.
Here's what it looked like before it was cleared.
Trees go down along the GAP all the time and I'm sure one day I'll have to haul my bike through some branches just as other cyclists report. Adventure!  

When I returned to Ohiopyle, I noted the interesting bike racks. These are clearly much easier to use with a cable lock rather than a u-lock. Another cyclist and I were commenting about them. A man walked up to me afterwards and asked how I liked the racks... because he designed them. He called them 'The Bike Garden'. Apropos.




45 miles on a gorgeous late-summer day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

'Bikes are vehicles' FTW

There's a notion amongst many that a bicycle is just a child's toy and that is doesn't fall into the category with 'vehicles'. This attitude is discriminatory and treats bike commuters and cyclists as second class citizens.

 Here's an excellent example:



Today I received some validation that my bike was in fact my vehicle.

I took away from this interaction not that fact that I was rudely harassed for daring to bring my bike into the vestibule of the Downtown Library and attempting to leave it there for a full 3 seconds while I stepped 5 feet inside to deposit the DVD and CD I was returning into the dropbox, but that the security guard referred to my bike as 'your vehicle'.






Could the guard have addressed this situation better? Yes. I've been in banks where the security guards encourage customers to leave their bikes in the vestibule.
I think the security guard should have said to me, "I'm sorry, you can't bring your bike into the vestibule, if you're returning items I can take them, but next time, please park outside." instead of yelling at me and then blocking my path to the dropbox *after* I followed his instructions and left my bike outside. That was really poor, bullying behavior.

But, hey... I've got a vehicle.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Pittsburgh Left

I took the new bike lane down to the Strip for some groceries. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to exit the bike lane and get down to the shops. The lane ends at 16th street and it becomes one way so you can't continue. I think I may try to take the alley (Spring Way) or simply exit the bike lane earlier because what I tried this morning didn't work:







I signaled a left and waited for the oncoming cyclist to pass, but she, being courteous I suppose, slowed to allow me to turn and the officer manning the crosswalk made traffic stop for me. Wow. Well, I kindly refused her offer to Pittsburgh Left in front of her then I thanked the officer as well and went on my way only to discover that this was the road with cobblestones next to Wholey's. I hate cobblestones when I'm on a bike. You can see in the video how jarring those damned cobblestones are.

I'll avoid this turn in the future.


I found some bread for my bread baskets (AKA panniers).




Sunday, September 7, 2014

The bike lane in training wheels, and vice versa

Friday, I made a local newscast:

http://www.wtae.com/news/city-bike-lanes-grow-along-with-frustration-in-pittsburgh/27903504




They caught me using the temporary Warhol bridge bike lane; I also caught them catching me:



How not to wear a messenger bag:

You'll see me adjust my bag on the newscast. I was getting rather frustrated with the bag sliding down my back. I figured I wasn't wearing it correctly and did a bit of research. Yes, I was wearing it as if I was left-handed. No wonder it was sliding around!


My backward-thinking brain assumed the best way was to wear it was slung over my right shoulder, but I was wrong. My brain also thinks the best way to hold a guitar is the left-handed way too.

Growing pains and training wheels

The bike lanes are having some growing pains, drivers are getting used to it's presence, cyclists are adapting to shifting lanes to hop into it inbound (16th Street) and out of it outbound (14th Street? I haven't figured out this maneuvering yet.)
Essentially, the new lanes still have the training wheels on.

On Sunday, we were due to have fabulous weather, so I made time for a day-long ride. I began at base which is transformed into a Tailgater's Heaven on football game days.

Before I left, I wanted to load the Trucker up with all the waterproof baggage I'd gotten for long, wet trips. I think it'll do well for multi-day trips on the GAP that I hope to take.
But, will it carry all my stuff?
 I also hooked up my new u-lock tote from Dill Pickle. I used it all day and I love it. It doesn't rattle a bit!
I ventured off to McKeesport via the new Penn Ave bike lane, stopped in the Strip for a coffee and fruit, then to the South Side and pittstops at REI's and the PumpHouse's bathrooms. I made a turnaround in McKeesport and noticed a pizza place that had dedicated bike parking. Awesome! I have to patronize this place for lunch! However, they had no pizza and 2/3 of the items on the menu were crossed off. Scary. I won't be going back there.



The bike rentals will close up shop soon.

Gorgeous weather!
I met hubby for dinner, DINNER? I left before lunch...it seemed I was out for 8 hours putzing around in the out-of-doors!

On the way back to base, I saw the most heartwarming thing in the bike lane:







I made good time and got a new PR

When I made it back to base, the animals that were tailgating left a mess:

I was forced to move someone's slobbery glass beer bottle placed behind my car in order to leave my parking spot. Gross.



43.3 miles, a kick-ass day.