Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hill climbing to Soupaneuring 5.5

Hubby and I made a compromise today. He wanted to drag me all over the city (in a car), go shopping, have lunch, do some more shopping... *YAWN*
I can't lament these things to other women, they give me an evil look and tell me how lucky I am to have a husband who wants to take me out to eat and shopping. They then tell me how awful it is to have a spouse who lies on the couch, drinking beer, passing gas and watching football and refuses to go anywhere with them. OK, that does sound like it sucks, but I'd rather ride my bike than drive to all these places.
The compromise was that I would ride my bike there, hubby would meet me there in the car. We'd shop separately. He was happy, I was happy. This was a good way to start the new year: happy.

I actually bumped into him at Marty's Market on my way through the Strip and said a brief hello before I was on my way again.

I took this opportunity to take the new Bike Boulevard there. It was hilly, and I did a fair amount of heavy breathing, but it wasn't as bad as if I were riding the Monster. It didn't give me mental scars.

It was snow-squalling on my way up Gold Way and left a layer of snow on my bike while we ate. I got egg dosa and it comes with sambar... I got insanely sick the last time I had the sambar there. So, I gave my nuclear/toxic sambar to my lunchmate. Maybe this will count for #soupaneuring 5.5? Again, I'm bending and breaking rules! However, I'm riding my bike, soup is involved and I'm feeling very good about it. I'll be having a safe miso later tonight at our Eve dinner at the only Chinese restaurant I've found where the staff understands English very well and is very concerned about my MSG allergy. They go out of their way to make sure everything I get is MSG-free.

I had to get a shot of Immaculate Heart on my way through Polish Hill.

Stikman resides at Liberty, Garrison and 7th.
 On my way back through Downtown, I found a Stikman tile. These fall into the Toynbee/Hades guerrilla art category: a spectacular find as they're hard to distinguish from a random piece of paper on the street. It was about the size of a dollar bill. I'm surprised I even noticed it because traffic was VERY thick with the FirstNight street closures and I was paying close attention to the vehicles.

I was finally able to get Ruby back into the bike racks at our building, for the past week and a half they were blocked by copy machines and huge palates of recycling. I'm glad to see we have access to the bikes again. She had been parked in my office, next to my desk for the time being, which I liked to be honest. I parked Ruby and took the Monster and hooked her up to the rack to be taken back home and resigned to light Montour duty. Ruby was going to be my everyday bike from now on.

Here's Ruby, all reflective n'at.

The Monster came home with me and she managed to stay on the rack.

I bought beets in the Strip on my way back with intentions of making a beet soup, which I've never tried. A new soup! This will be a true #soupaneuring adventure.

2013 Miles: 623
BMI 25.5

Monday, December 30, 2013

Down with the Sickness

Monday brought a close encounter with a car on the trail.

Some Dead End and/or Authorized Vehicles Only signs are sorely needed there at the end of Kroll Drive, there must be GPS devices directing motorists to drive on the trail, I see MANY drivers lost on this portion of the trail. They normally yield to cyclists and ask me how to get where they want to go. This guy wasn't interested in hitting the brakes in order to avoid hitting me.

When we got home, this was waiting for me, all the way from Latvia:

 It's a red waterproof basket cover! I really could have used this yesterday.

The sickness.

I've discovered I have a sickness; I love riding in the cold. I love it more than an 80 degree day. On warm days, I sweat and it's evident. I'm hot and woozy. I get a headache. On a few occasions, on very hot days my nose bled. I get a disturbingly red face, but I think that's some Irish genetic thing. Irish folk get red in the face from many things: drinking, hard labor, the sun, politicking, embarrassment... sometimes the politicking and embarrassment go hand-in-hand.
The heat will keep me indoors, it seems the cold doesn't. Hubby was telling me that the temperature on an upcoming day would be in the single digits. I said "Yes!"
What the heck is wrong with me?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dude, you just *don't* grab a woman's antlers.

I worked a few hours at the office before setting off with the intentions of doing some Hades Tiles searching. It was raining hard and was set to do so all day long. This was a great day to test out my new Cleverhood and Leggits. I ran into my supervisor's spouse and a friend of his who were tailgaiting in the parking lot before the Steeler's Game. They were sure the Leggits were boots until I told them otherwise.

I found one Hades Tile here at Boulevard of the Allies and Wood.

This guy doesn't like the media, I'm guessing.

 I quickly discovered that trying to find Hades tiles in the rain was a bust. Every time I'd get off the bike to shoot a tile, my saddle and hands would get wet, not to mention my phone. I preferred to do this with the good camera anyway. So, I abandoned my plans and decided to head to the Pump House and Kennywood. This was just beyond my 'furthest point reached' so far with my trip to the Waterfront on Christmas.

I stopped at REI for a bathroom break and to look at waterproof gloves. The mittens I had with me were drenched already. I found a pair of lobster gloves on sale and finally got a membership.
I'm not wearing pantaloons, honestly.

I made it to the pump house and decided to turn around. I was tiring of the sloggy soft trail and being wet and covered in limestone sludge. I was having a hard time drying my hands before putting them back into my new gloves. I was also hungry and thirsty.

Vannevar's hype about the oatmeal at Big Dog didn't go unnoticed and I headed there in hopes that I'd catch it before it was too late. 20 minutes too late. I got a latte and undoubtedly annoyed the staff by coming in considerably wet. I tipped like a madwoman to compensate.

The Steeler's game was letting out by the time I got back over by Point State Park. One particularly inebriated gentleman decided he'd try and grab my antlers as I rode by. He got pretty close with his lunge and may have knocked me off my bike if I wasn't lucky. Asshat.
I stayed on the streets to avoid more asshattery. As I rode through the crowds, many more drunk asshats hooted and screeched with vigor at my antlers. Thankfully, they were on the sidewalks and I was out of grabbing range.

The brigade of asshats approaches.

About to lunge at my antlers.

The pedicabs were the only other cyclists I saw today save one woman all geared up in spandex and cat-6-ing me on the EFT. You go girl. She didn't have ANY raingear on. I also saw one older gentleman in a recumbent near the Eagles' nest.

I collected hubby and we went to Nu for matzo ball soup. I avoid the broth. Hmm, we *drove* there. Maybe this can count for Soupaneuring 4.5? We also got latkes; I got an eggplant/beet-pickled egg pita thing that was fabulous. Hubby got a brisket on rye. The latkes were fan-freaking-tastic. The restaurant is really cramped though... and a tad pricey.

Hubby demolished one of the balls before I could get the phone out.

 The Cleverhood and leggits did very well. The spats are covered in tons of road grime now, but my feet were dry.

My hair didn't holdup very well though. The back of my neck was wet and my hair was a frizzy, moist tumbleweed. I must have let the hood drip water back there when I took the hood down at several points. I had to re-iron my hair to get the frizzy/wavy out.

A fun day. 23 miles, a new record.

YTD Miles: 607
BMI: 25.7

Friday, December 27, 2013

More Toynbee tile discoveries!

I went for a ride on my lunch hour today and was forced to take the roads because snow and ice still made the trails treacherous. I found 3 more Hades/Toynbee tiles at the corner of the Boulevard of the Allies and Market Streets.

Two, right next to one another!

I need to get better closeups of the text. I can't read that either.

This was right across the intersection, closer to Market Square. Those are pennies embedded in there.

Now, I'm fixated on finding all of the new Hades tiles. I'll have to grid-ride all of Downtown to accomplish this. It may be best to do this on a Sunday when there's less traffic. I found myself paying more attention to the ground and not enough to my surroundings.

Happy dance: I can use my raincape and leggits soon!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas adventure with Ruby

I started out relatively early, but getting the bike unloaded from the car, loaded with the essentials and dressed into the required number of layers for temps in the teens took much longer than I had anticipated and I didn't get rolling until 10:30.


Ruby's all set.

Some interesting graffiti along the Eliza Furnace trail
 I set off to see the Bald Eagles nesting in Hays. I managed to find a geocache not far from the nest and heard the telltale screeches of the pair while I was logging the geocache. Crows were mobbing them across the river.

When I got to the nest, they were performing some courtship displays while in flight above the ridge. This made me happy beyond description. I never did spot the nest, but who cares? I heard and saw BALD EAGLES!

I went down to the Waterfront complex in Homestead looking for a bathroom. No port-o-pottys, no stores were open on Christmas! I was getting desperate. I kindly asked to use one at one of the hotels there. Whew.

 On the way back, I decided to look for the remaining  Toynbee tile I had missed along Smithfield and to my delight, there were THREE NEW ones!

Smithfield and First

Smithfield and Third

Smithfield and Fourth. I LOVE the homage to the originals with the legs framing the tile. This is splendid.

My target was this original at Smithfield and Forbes. The other three were icing on my Toynbee cake!

Soupaneuring #4 was this bowl of tomato daal that I'd made the night before with 3 different types of daals. Yellow daal, red daal and moong daal with a masala that I'd made in a huge batch and frozen months prior.

Still-lingering bike fit issues

This was the first ride I'd taken since my fitting. I was concerned initially that my saddle was still wrong and after a few miles into my ride, I tried to readjust it. No go. My fitter had tightened that bolt with man-strength that I just wasn't able to undo. Fortunately, it wasn't an issue after a 22 mile, 3.75 hour ride. My neck was *really* angry and still miffed hours later. I do NOT like riding all hunched over, bending my neck at an awkward angle to see where I'm going. I *really* want my handlebars further back and/or higher. I will mention this to my fitter with our follow-up. All of Europe rides in an upright position, this doesn't seem to be an issue for them!

With my new rear-mounted basket, I can no longer tip the bike to one side to mount her. I have to grab my leg and hoist it over the bike. Rickety joints suck.

YTD Miles: 576
BMI: 26.1 

ARRRGH! Damn you, delicious, tempting holiday foods!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A bike fitting

I'll admit, I had no idea what a bike fitting even was until it was explained to me. I thought it was used in the purchase of a new bike. *shrug* Having discovered that it was mainly used to tweak issues riders are having with a current bike I thought this was right up my alley in regards to my Cannondale. I'd eliminated my saddle issues on my own but I was still having minor neck, wrist and elbow issues.

So, it was suggested to raise my seatpost and my fitter took issue with the angle I had my saddle. Huh? I'd just fixed that! I really liked the angle of my saddle! I had to get over my reluctance to discuss why I liked it at that angle with a virtual stranger. Deal with it, this guy's a professional, he's heard this probably a hundred times or more. The angle he readjusted it to was not going to work: ouch. Another readjustment and two different saddles later, my girly bits weren't quite so angry with me.

On to the handlebars: he gave me new grips, these... I loved! Just gripping the handlebars differently made a world of difference to my arthritic wrists and elbows. The downside was that I'd lost my rear-view mirror, it couldn't be used with these grips. Boooo.

I'm due to go back for a shorter stem that wasn't in stock.

This was a great experience overall. Much was learned.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How my bike got her name

How Suicide Sally Resolute Ruby got her name:
I was heading up to Wexford on I-79 for a bike fitting with a bike I was simply calling 'the silver bike'. I was hoping to get more comfortable riding her. I liked her shifters, drivetrain and climbing capabilities much better than the Monster.
Just before the Carnegie interchange, as I'm doing 55 MPH, I looked in my rear view mirror and the bike's ass end was dangling off the rack, only held there by a cable lock that I like to use because the silver bike is tiny and doesn't fit properly on a bike rack designed for adult-sized bikes. It had popped out of the rubber latches on the one side.

Negative Spin:
She was attempting to end her life by leaping off the back of my car and under the wheels of a tractor trailer.
Positive Spin:
As Vannevar so plainly put it, this bike stayed with me despite my incompetence.

Adrenaline kicked in and I was able to put the hazard lights on, NOT hit the brakes or make any evasive maneuvers that would cause the bike to come off the rack completely in the middle lane of 79. I edged over to the shoulder, thankfully traffic there saw my predicament and gave way.

There on the shoulder, the adrenaline wore off and and I started shaking. What if it had come off and caused another vehicle to crash? This was horrible and it was all my fault. Now I had to get out and get the bike back on the rack with car and trucks zipping by at 70MPH just feet away in the rain. I had visions of all those horrible police dash-cam videos of police officers getting hit by wayward traffic on the side of the road.

While Ruby's supposed to get my heart rate up, this wasn't the route I'd anticipated. I didn't stop shaking until I got beyond Neville Island.

At the bike shop, I promptly bought a bar that will prevent that sort of thing from happening again.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sunrise, Toynbee Tiles and flashes of orange

 It was a gorgeous morning, so I decided to take the silver bike down to Point State Park for my final opportunity to get shots of the tree lit with a stunning sunrise.

Hurry and get over there before they switch off the tree!

They turned the lights off right after I got this shot.

The moon made an appearance too.

 Then, it was off to see if I could get some shots of 2 of the remaining Toynbee Tiles. When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I remember being very curious about them. These were pre-Internet days and research was difficult until I found websites about them years later. Many of the originals are gone, but a Toynbee culture still exists in Philadelphia.

Later in the day on my lunch hour, I ran into E and S again and was delighted to have some company and conversation.

I love her Santa hat bike helmet.

YTD Miles: 554
BMI: 25.3