Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just say "no" and not poking bears.

This driver felt I needed to be riding in the parking lane during the AM rush hour, I don't like riding over there because... I'm not inclined to weave in and out of traffic to avoid the intermittent parked/stopped vehicles. I'd much rather take the lane and wait a few seconds longer.
This is an odd street, sometimes it's two lanes, but there's almost always a delivery truck parked in the right lane. As I turn onto the street, and attempt to get in the line of traffic that is off to the left to avoid a delivery truck stopped up ahead, impatient Jeep comes up quickly behind me and attempts to pass with maybe a foot of clearance.
I'm only a half a car length behind the car ahead of me.  
Where is he trying to go?
I yell at him to "Back off!"

While we're waiting in traffic, Jeep driver motions for me to get over to the side and out of his way. I say "No."
He motions again, I say "No." again.

(at 0:32 in the video, you can see the expression on a pedestrian's face as he thinks I'm saying "No!" to him instead of the driver behind me, rather amusing.)

While we waited some more at the next light, I strongly considered a snarky smile or a sarcastic wave or blowing him a kiss as I dismounted at my destination, but I thought better of it. I'm making progress. I just turned my back and walked away.

Deliberately provoking already agitated people either with angry words or even with overly saccharine gestures isn't very smart... it's like poking a wounded bear with a short stick.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bike To Work Day and knackered bollards

Today was Bike To Work Day and I helped out at the North Shore cafe again. Su and former co-worker Lauren volunteered also. Rusty and Marko stopped by. Several kids did as well.

Later in the evening, Flock riders assembled in Oakland.

In the Penn ave bike lane, we learned how bollards are crushed.

We rode out to Herr's Island and Joanne and Ray let us sample some of their homemade wine, good stuff.

One Flocker had a Bumper Bike Dude tee shirt, loved that so much I needed to take a picture.

As usual, a slow ride with friendly waving, dinging cyclists. Good times.

Hello, People of Pittsburgh!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Counting people, random things and a really steep hill

I'd volunteered to count people on bikes and walking for the Bike and Pedestrian department of the City of Pittsburgh. We had a short training session.

I came out of the training to find Fizz was tangled with another bike that was parked after I'd locked up. The saddle was wedged in the other bike's brakes and handlebars, the owner must have lifted her bike over my saddle to lock up. I was reluctant to lift someone's bike to try and untangle them, but thankfully the owner was at the same training and returned a few moments later.

My assignment was Allegheny and Ridge.

Random things:

An interesting sticker at Schenley Plaza
 The Dero Fix-It station between Alcosan and the Bastille  is now all logo-ed up by the generous sponsor: Alsosan!

A tree down near the Bastille from a previous night's storm.

A new bench near the Bastille!

 The Milvale pavement markings on the bike lane up to/down from the 40th St Bridge were re-done recently.

Marko pointed out to me that there are sharrows painted on the bridge itself too. It seems PennDot's original intent of this bike infra was for us to use the bike lanes to ride up onto the bridge travel lanes. Nope. Not doing it.

The bike rack that took 15 months of planning, paperwork and permissions was finally planted in the cement outside our offices this past week.  My co-workers posted Facebook photos of it being installed while I was in Chicago. Even though I wasn't there to see it in person, I was so glad.


I'd learned that the Taco Truck has set up a permanent-ish gig at Gus's Cafe in Lawrenceville and I had time to kill before an appointment in Polish Hill so I decided to spend some time stuffing tacos in my face. I got a General Tso's taco and sat down at one of Gus's tables outside. I think the tradeoff Gus's has: the Taco patrons feel compelled to order a drink from their bar, so I did.

My appointment was at the highest point of Polish Hill, the top of Brereton. I've always made the turn at the church at Brereton and Dobson and headed towards Gold Way, so I'd never completed Brereton on a bike. Wow, it's steep. I've not ever encountered a hill this steep. The above photo does it no justice. Strava says it has a 14-21% grade. I felt that if I needed to stop on the hill that I would have drifted back and fallen down.... so I just kept going. "Don't stop, Colleen... keep moving... it's not a long hill... you can doo eeet!"

It took a minute or so at the top of the hill to let my heart rate normalize. I'd need to learn how to make an emergency stop on a steep hill without tipping over. I think if I get up out of the saddle, I'll be better situated to stop, especially if I'm carrying weight in panniers.
How the hell do the Dirty Dozen riders handle 25% grades? I have a better appreciation for that stamina and skill now.

When I spoke to someone who lives there, and bikes frequently, she said she can never make that hill, she walks the bike up the final steep section. She's 25 years old. Ha! I'm almost twice her age! In your face, kid!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Shut up, legs! Clohn Art epicenter and meeting Rootchopper.

Today was hot, sunny and gorgeous. I'd read about a event on the South Side called the Birmingham BikeTacular and I was curious. Marko and I met and rode down to it after riding up through the Cemetery in Lawrencville. A hill in the heat and sun is brutal for me, but I'd prepared by hydrating myself a great deal the night and morning before the ride and making sure to take my magnesium.  

We'd arrived as one of the contests was taking place: wheelies. Seeing a pedicab do a side-wheelie is something to behold.

It looked fun but the observers and participants were sparse. We talked with Elizabeth and checked out the collection of weird bikes that Thick owns.  The next contest was 'Best scar' I found it rather odd that the BikeShare was sponsoring that one. Thankfully neither Marko or I have gnarly bike crash scars, so we were on our way.

Marko convinced me that it would be a good idea to ride up Mount Washington. What? My legs can only handle one big hill per day! They're not used to this sort of abuse! Despite the pleas of mercy from my legs, I said yes. My desire to go new places overrides any later repercussions such as leg cramps.
I'd not yet ridden up to Mount Washington... I'd taken the Duquesne incline, but never made the climb. He took us via The McArdle and we got a chance to see the Monongahela incline in action up close. Very cool.

There was a library at the top of the hill and when I walked in to ask if I could use the water fountain and facilities the librarians looked at me with alarm and pointed the way to the bathroom. When I got to the mirror in the bathroom, I knew why they were alarmed, I forget how red my face gets in the heat and sun. I looked like I was about to keel over.

We rested and enjoyed the view and then descended via Sycamore, the car that trailed behind us was polite and patient enough, recognizing we had a myriad of potholes to dodge while we snaked down to Station Square. You simply cannot pass anyone on Sycamore with all the blind turns.

We ended up back in Lawrencville and I found the Clohn Art epicenter. I'd been seeing Clohn Art all over the city in the past year such as these:

But this was the home office for Clohn Art.

Marko dropped me off at the Pirates game where I was planning to meet DC Cycling Bloggers Rootchopper of A Few Spokes Shy of a Wheel, BicycleBug and DCCyclist. They were in town to catch a game at PNC park before GAPping back to DC. It was very good to meet them and I'd never seen the city from the highest seats in PNC Park, so I grabbed a shot. I love that view.
You can Twitter-follow the trio vicariously on their GAP trip with the hashtag #nowrongplan

We got to see the rare triple play something I've never seen in person...and the type of triple play that had not yet existed in the history of major league baseball.
"Yadier Molina hit the first pitch he saw Saturday night right on the screws, then watched in disbelief, his hands glued to the sides of his pine-tarred helmet, as the play before him unfolded into the first recorded 4-5-4 triple play in major league history."

My legs decided to cramp up during the 6th inning: my left hamstring (joy, a NEW muscle to cramp up!) and my right gracillis and quad: all three at the same time. 
I hobbled down the steps and tried walking them off and stretching them behind the dugout seats where I wouldn't obstruct anyone's view.  The painful grimace on my face cause three park employees to stop me and ask what was wrong and if they could help.... yeesh. They subsided before after a short walk.

30 miles with my abusive trainer Marko and meeting fellow bloggers, a very fine day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slow Roll, interrupted and Cinco De Mayo

My second attempt at completing a Slow Roll ride was thwarted yet again by rain.

Photos by Paul B:

I bugged out mid-ride when the skies darkened and the wind started gusting ferociously and I was getting sandblasted with road debris. Then, it was a game of "Outpedal the Thunderstorm" Thankfully, I won...

Murphy's Law was in effect: if you bring rain gear, it won't rain. If you don't bring rain gear, it will rain.
The weather report said there was a 35% chance of rain after 9PM, so I thought I was safe in not bringing the raincape. Nope.

I discovered an interesting aspect of Strava: it let me know who was also using Strava on the ride. Cool.



The next evening was Flock's Cinco De Mayo themed ride. The weather called for severe thunderstorms, so I brought my raincape. Naturally, not a single drop of rain fell.
Again: Murphy's law.
It was a smaller group, we only got separated once. The trailer played Bolero music, I found myself dancing to one song in particular... Gipsy Kings: 'Bamboleo'

After peeking at my rear video to hear the song again, I noticed nearly everyone was dancing to it... even the adorable 3-year old riding with his dad.

It was also my first time riding a bike in the Armstrong tunnel.

Photos by Chris A: 

Notable thing saw along the way:

A brand-spanking new HealthyBike station AKA: PiBS or HELBikes (Pittsburgh's soon to be spawned bike share system)

I opted out of the tequila and tacos afterwards as I have work in the morning: vacation OVER.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Divvy, Chicago and Saint Louis

We drove to Chicago for the first part of our tour of the Midwest to check out some Pirates games and see some new-to-us stadiums. I'd convinced spouse that using Divvy bike share in Chicago would alleviate the hassle of parking and driving in a city where parking is hard to come by.

Not only would this be spouse's first time riding a bike in traffic, but it would be in a city where I was totally unfamiliar with the streets. I'd have to make sure his maiden voyage was safe and stress-free. We wanted to ride 6 miles down LakeShore Drive trail for a tour of legendary Wrigley Field before the game and then we'd ride back down to the hotel in traffic using Clark Street's bike lane and sharrows.

Divvy was easy to use, we did encounter one station that refused to pump out new codes when we tried to grab new bikes before our 30 minute ride expired, so we walked the remaining 5 blocks.

While I did my best to ensure a stress-free time on the bikes and traffic, I was clueless as to the fact that the bike lane on one particular street was on the left hand side of the street and we were riding on the right most lane of a 4 lane street. I observed that the folks in cars were amazingly patient with all pedestrians and people on bikes, I encountered none of the menacing behavior I'm used to in Pittsburgh. Spouse complained that I rode too fast for him (wow...) and that he was in fear for his life the entire time we rode with cars.

More photos of our time in Chicago and visiting Wrigley:

We rode down to the first game but damn it was cold that evening, we couldn't make it into the 6th inning before we had to leave... it was in the 30's. I couldn't bear riding a bike for 4 miles back to the hotel after sitting in the cold for several hours so I sprung for a nice warm taxi.

A nice warm subway

The next evening's game I suggested taking the L/Subway down to Wrigley, I was worn out from the cold from the previous evening's game as well as a cold river tour we took. Again, it was in the 30's and we dressed much warmer and even took a blanket from the hotel.... it was brutal, but we made it though the entire game.

Wrigley's FREE bike valet!

Chicago is very bike-oriented, there's tons of infra, tons of commuters, soooo many people use the bike share!
Other bikey stuff I encountered:

Cargo bike!
I wondered what this bike was...

Later, after our river tour, I saw the owner had unlocked it, rode it a block or two away and he crawled inside to put on a puppet show.

 Bike cops in Chicago use handcuffs to lock their bikes.

A female officer was the user of the bike with the pink water bottle

We drove deeper into the midwest to Saint Louis to see the Pirates play the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.


Union Station Hotel
Brewery tour
Busch Stadium

Notable difference: Saint Louis has much fewer cyclists and barely any infra.

What is this?

A Saint Louis/Gateway themed bike rack.

I found Saint Louis' only remaining original Toynbee tile!