Friday, April 18, 2014

Cop Corks Friday Flock, dualities and The Pedicab Races.

Friday started off with an early dismissal at work which meant I was free to ride all afternoon before Friday Flock. I met hubby for lunch and we ate outside at the Casino and I watched the cyclists on the RiverWalk and folks paddling about on the river go by.  I hate eating at the Casino, but he loves it. I loathe having to run the gauntlet of smoke to get to the buffet he set his sights on. He'll endure anything if it says 'all you can eat'.

Hubby and I went our separate ways and I went back to base with the intention of grabbing Ruby and being on my way, but leg cramps prevented that. I spent 45 minutes stretching, massaging and walking off horrible calf and foot cramps that had me in tears at one point. It's my own fault, I spent the past two days not drinking enough water and eating poorly. The cramps subsided finally and I was able to get over the the South Side and then back into town and taking the Strip/Polish Hill route to Oakland for the Flock of Cycles ride. I probably could have taken Panther Hollow, but I wasn't sure if I was able to ride up that hill. That hill looks like a doozy.

Friday Flock

I hit Oakland just at 5:45, grabbed some Afghan lamb and rice at Conflict Kitchen before heading over to Dippy where we assembled for a ride that ended up at a wonderful ice cream shoppe. In tow were Yale, Stu, Terry, Marko and many regulars. A few of them thought it novel that I wore a dress. I don't really see what's so remarkable about wearing a skirt or a dress on a bike.

A group of motorcyclists thought our group was picture-worthy and they hooted and waved to a fellow 'biker gang' as we rolled by them.
Our group even got a special corking near Homewood Cemetery/Frick Park by a police officer who turned on the light bar. That was awesome ².

The officer was thanked by every one of us, I think.

Parking all of our bikes in one block of Shadyside proved challenging. We got creative.

The cone I had didn't give me a roller-coaster blood sugar ride. That's the mark of good ice cream: not so much sugar, but lots of fat. Ah, milkfat goodness.

Upon exiting the shoppe, I realized I had never been in this part of the city on a bike. I would have to figure out how to get back. In. The. Dark. I didn't even know whether left or right would get me closer to Downtown. I was completely disoriented. I enlisted my phone's navigating app to guide me and it took me down Baum to Liberty and on to the Strip. Whew. Thank you, technology!
On the way there, I stopped in Bloomfield to remove my jacket and put on my reflective vest when a man came over to me after two girls (also wearing skirts, FWIW) on bikes had passed and told me he had wished they were wearing reflectives and lights like I was. I looked up and sure enough, the girls had become nearly invisible just half a block ahead of us. Ninja Chicks.

I felt twinges of thigh cramps coming back while riding through the Strip and I was thankful they didn't fully cramp up while I was trying to ride. I clearly need to take a day (or two) off to let my legs rest and re-hydrate myself.

Being the outsider

On my way past the ballpark, I felt out of place being outside the park while it was full of fans and much noise emanating from them. It was odd, but even more interesting was the dichotomies of the dim silence that was enveloping me where I was.... on a dark bridge, above a quiet river and no traffic around me and the noise from the far off cheering fans in a bright stadium that would wash over me in waves as some exciting play would rouse them in unison. It made me smile as I filled my senses with sound, light and breathed in deeply the smells of the river and our lush city.

Pedicab Races

I passed many pedicabs waiting for the game to end and for their fares to come pouring out of the park. I suddenly found myself in a rare moment where I was able to manage a burst of speed; this would be 16-17 MPH, if you're keeping score. My normal pace is the 10-11 MPH range. I zipped past a lumbering pedicab and the driver shouted up to me, "You're making me look bad!".  I smiled and gave a sorry-shrug back at him. Another pedicab had a fare of 3 in the back of his cycle-rickshaw and they decided it would make good sport to race their cab against me as we waited at a light. I gave them a good show of getting into a low-built-for-speed position and donning my best steely-eyed competitive glare before setting off at a speed just fast enough to over take the sluggish rickshaw.

Bruise mystery solved.

I've noticed a mysterious pattern of bruises on my right knee and I had trouble determining the cause.

Where are these coming from?

Oh, the shifter. *BONK*
They started after I moved the saddle forward. It doesn't hurt when I knee the shifter paddle when I dismount, but I guess I bruise easily in this spot and I'll have to put up with brown and purple spots all over one knee.

A wonderful day, 33 miles.
Coming up: several days of rest for my legs that were torn apart by muscle cramps.

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.