Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Money Shots

When I started out today, was surprised to see barriers at the casino employee parking area. The employees have long been a blight upon the trail. They've nearly run down pedestrians and cyclists on numerous occasions, I've seen it and complained to the casino and Friends of the Riverfront.  I know others have complained too, but we were ignored until a local journalist was nearly run down. She complained directly to the employee who was driving on the trail, to the casino security... and she was ignored also... until she tweeted about it.
It took less than 18 hours for these barriers to be installed. Wow. Awesome.
Rather sad though... the casino doesn't care about our safety until the the threat of bad press is upon them?

I was delighted to tweet a photo of the quick results of her handiwork. I really hope the barriers remain in place.

 I went off in search of eagles.
 The eggs in the Bald Eagles' nest are hatching. The 2nd of three eggs hatched today. The news crews were out in force. I lingered with the media, the birders and the eagle groupies. Then one of the parents went on a food run. I missed the takeoff because I was goofing with my phone. Dammit. I moved my position and before too long the parent returned with food in it's talons.

This crappy cellphone picture simply does no justice to what I saw with my own eyes.

We watched as this majestic bird slowed it's wingbeats to land in the nest. It was jaw-dropping. We went silent. This beast is enormous. The wingspan is breathtaking. As soon as the eagle landed, the news crews had the money shot. They'd gotten what they came for. They started packing up their camera equipment and leaving. I did too. I'd seen a rare and spectacular event. What more could I ask for?

I left and went to the Strip. I stopped at a market for a bathroom and bulk organic popping corn. I love popcorn. Buttered popcorn is another of my vices.
I also made sure to snack, rest and drink while I was there. It had warmed up and I was sweating with all my layers.

I headed down to Millvale and visited another spot for a wonderful skyline shot.

I'm a parking scofflaw.

26 miles on a gorgeous windy day.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Antici..... pation!

There's so much anticipation in my life right now. I can hardly contain myself.
I'm still waiting for the Strip trail to open; the Ballpark is such a flurry of activity, I couldn't even roll through to see how the yard looked on Friday. I've been checking on the grass almost daily this week. It's been covered with tarp every time I've checked. I want so badly to see the colors on Opening Day: neon green of the field, the bright white of new baseball uniforms, the red white and blue of the bunting and the sea of black and gold baseball fans. I yearn for those crisp, bright colors after such a harsh, cold, grey winter.

My home away from home. Soon. Soon, I'll be inside.

Friday was a fantastic weather day. Everywhere I looked on my morning ride, there was a bike commuter. I was stopped at a light when another cyclist rolled up next to me. He greeted me enthusiastically and spoke of how wonderful the weather was. We smiled as we agreed that it was Spring that was upon us... finally ...and it was good. This interaction was special and unique to those on two wheels. You just don't get that sort of thing in a car. The complete stranger in the car next to you isn't going to roll down his window at 8AM and celebrate the arrival of Spring with you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Am I a Viking Biking or a Biking Viking?

Today was the Viking Ride.

Photo by Joyce W.

Grrr! The "P" stands for PILLAGE! Photo by Lucia

Photoshop Merge did something terrible to Kevin. Yikes!

I started out early to get some miles in before the start of our Viking adventure. I found I couldn't pack as many canned goods and sundries on the bike as I had hoped to donate to the food bank. I stayed for the picnic afterwards and indulged in meats of many sorts. I don't eat meat often, but this seemed a day (when one is dressed in fur and sporting horns) one should tear into the flesh of animals. Ride organizer Lucia made a wonderful cactus salad, I loved it and may have to seek out a local Mexican bodega to find some pickled cactus and make a batch of my own!

When I left the picnic and started towards base, I was suddenly terribly fatigued. I could barely get beyond 7MPH. I had 6 miles to go, I'd have to tough this out. I labored on and at the crest of the Fort Pitt bridge, too exhausted to make the turn properly, I caught my right handlebar on one of the the bridge's I-beams at the awkward left hook. Down we went. I knocked my left forearm on the other side of the bridge, the same exact spot that still has a hard knot/hematoma from the railroad tracks fall in January. Two gentlemen who were walking towards me, came rushing to see if I was OK. I was fine, just horribly embarrassed. We laughed it off and went on my way. I now see the importance of bike naps.

I was also surprised to learn I could ride the entire day in a long, ankle-length skirt and not need a skirt guard, nothing got caught on the wheel or chain.

A wonderful 25 mile day with friends, great weather and making strangers smile as we passed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flock Friday!

The day started out with a gorgeous sunrise.

 I left work a tad early to hit Conflict Kitchen before the Flock ride. I like Middle Eastern food. This month's country is Afghanistan. I got the Qorma-e Lubia. Nice and spicy. I could only eat half, so the rest rode around in the back basket, to be saved as a second meal.

Flock commences!

As we descended Pocusset, the city's new no-motor-vehicles road, we were travelling at 24-26 MPH. Whee! Then someone wiped out and slid on her face. She said she was OK at first, Paul asked for paper to stanch the bleeding... I'm glad I had a roll of TP with me for emergencies. Some point later she said she was woozy and Marcel took her to a urgent care center. I hope she's OK.

The boom box trailer
Terry and Mikhail 

Photo by JoyceW. I appear to be enjoying myself.

I'm ready to go! Photo by JoyceW

 Later when we arrived at Market Square, we filtered into Wingharts and Terry, Paul, JoanneP and RayP chatted while I enjoyed a whiskey. I realised I'd been there for some time and had to leave before my curfew*.

Whiskeys! Look at them all!

A wonderful time, 21 miles for the day. Bonus: I high-fived a complete stranger as we passed though downtown.

 * curfew instituted by the dogs' stomachs.

Adventures in (buying) riding pants.

I am always looking for clothes that I can wear as work/street clothes as well as bike in. Bear in mind, when I decided to buy some Swiss-made Schoeller®-Dryskin fabric or softshell riding pants in late January, I had a 34 inch waist and weighed 137. By mid March, I had a 31.5 inch waist and weighed 132. I have to make things difficult.

Betabrand Bike To Work Knickers: Like 'em

On January 21st I decided to order a pair of Betabrand Bike To Work Knickers in size 34. The Knickers were a crowdfunded item and took a while to go into production.
The Betabrand Knickers arrived on March 11th, they are a bit roomy but fit well enough. I attribute that to a loss of 2.5 inches in my waist. Woe is me.
I love them right now as a waterproof windbreaking outer shell on cold days. They're very noisy when I walk, which makes them an odd choice for work. They have belt loops so I may have to use a belt with them to keep them in place.

Mission Workshop Division Chinos: Loser!

On February 17th I ordered a pair of Mission Workshop's Division Chinos in a size 34, because that's what my waist was measuring at and it only seemed logical that a pair of 34 pants would fit.
The Mission Workshop Chinos arrived on 2/25.
The Chinos were ginormous. They fell right off. I measured the waistband at 37 inches. I come to learn 'industry standards' allow for +/- two inches in either direction. Wow, OK. This was 3 inches though. I informed Mission Workshop they were not acceptable and shipped them back. They suggested I try a size 30 or 32. "Great, send me one of those." I was informed after having to contact them again after waiting over 2 weeks that they didn't have either of those sizes. I asked for a refund. The material was very nice though.
After making another 2 contacts to follow up with my "where's my refund?" request, I got a credit to my credit card a month later. Lousy customer service too!

Outlier Women's Daily Riding Pants: Winner!

With my money refunded for the Mission Chinos and being a size smaller, I was able to get the coveted Outlier Women's Daily Riding Pants. These were originally the pants that I had coveted; the ones that female cyclists raved about in reviews, but they were't available in the size I was at the time. Ordered 3/17, arrived on 3/20. Damn, that's fast.

I took them out of the box and tried them on after getting home from work. I fully expected to just try them on briefly before we went out to dinner, but they were so damn comfortable, I wore them to dinner. Unfortunately, they absorbed every molecule of curry in the air at the Indian restaurant we went to and still reek half a day later. FOOO! They don't make noise when I walk, which is very nice. Water beads up very well, this is perfect for a potentially wet ride tonight.

...attempt at a yoga pose in my new coveted pants.

I wore them for my AM ride, plan on wearing them all day at work and for a group ride tonight. Love them already.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sadomasochism and other lessons learned.

Lesson #1: The balaclava is not a Greek pastry

I heard someone pronounce this word for the first time Sunday. I'd only just seen the word prior to this. I'm embarrassed to say I thought it was pronounced more like a Greek pastry: baklava.

Lesson #2: "The Strip Trail will be closed through February" means "Through March"


The the "I spotted Yale" drinking game.

I should make a game. Every time I spot Yale on the trails I have to drink a shot. No? How about a little bike decal award on my helmet every 10 times I spot him?

 I ran into the 'Well-lit recumbent Lady with kitty litter panniers' that Vannevar encountered some time ago. My new cowbell caught her eye (ear, actually) and she asked why I had a cowbell on my bike. I explained that few could hear my teeny bell or soft voice squeaking out an 'On your left!' at them, so I was trying out something with more ooomph.
Please, don't try and press the play button. You'll just feel silly.
 Hubby sometimes works in a rural office and I asked him to stop at a Tractor Supply Center for a cowbell. He called me from 'the cowbell section' and actually rang them for me over the phone. Gotta love that. I'm now the proud owner of a Kentucky#4 (whatever that means) cowbell. It works surprisingly well, it remains almost silent while moving, just an occasional 'bong' while going over a bump. It takes a bit of finesse to get it to ring when I want it to. Everyone hears me coming up behind them, I haven't noticed if the folks with earbuds hear the tones yet. It's been too cold for them to be out. This is definitely something I'll remove for riding with others, as the occasional 'bong!' might get annoying to others.

Mooooooove out of my way!

No, I didn't need a prescription from
Bruce Dickinson for my cowbell.

Lesson #3: Don't post handlebar cam video of anything I do on a bike at our local bike message boards.

...unless I'm feeling particularly sadomasochistic that day and I'm up for a complete sh*tstorm/clusterf*uck of Internet arguing. 

Lesson #4: it takes a lot of planning and people to get one bike rack installed.

I'm working with about 10 different people and 4 different companies & organizations to get approval, placement, funding and design of one bike rack (and possibly an air pump too!) with our logo installed outside our door at work.

"Artist's" rendering

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cranberry, Sewickley and Too Close

I spent the morning riding from Cranberry to Sewickley thanks to Vannevar. It's an area that hubby's strongly considering a move to, so this was especially interesting. It was peaceful and the tranquil sounds of a babbling brook that ran alongside the road were a very nice change of pace from my normal routes. I had a lovely time and good conversation and company along the way.
It was very cold and I used hand and toe warmers.
After we parted ways, I headed back to base with the bike on the back of the car and thought I still have life in the warmers, I should ride some more. I was hungry and decided to head to Double Wide for some seitan wings. I love seitan of all kinds. I make my own, but never wings, so this was a treat.

On the way there, this happened:

I was angry, but not DEFCON 1....More like:

 I noticed I was pedaling pretty fast after letting her have it.

I forget what an alien-like weirdo I look like when I'm riding in the cold.

Imagine this thing banging on your car's window, wanting to have a word with you.

I arrived at Double Wide in one piece...they have a nice bike corral there.

I decided I needed a drink after that bit of venom and ordered a drink I don't think I've had... ever... a shot of Jamison's. I mean, I'm an angry redhead in a bar the day before Saint Patrick's Day. I should be drinking Irish whiskey, yes?

Whiskey, chili and wings. Way to warm up!
Thoughts on whiskey:

I fully expected whiskey to kick my ass, but it was very smooth. I may come to like this stuff.

  • 25 miles on a brisk day. My thighs are barking at me.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The 12th Errandonnee

 I got an early start and headed down to the Strip. The Strip trail is still closed on the downtown side, but I understand you can travel inbound as the barricades are removed from the Strip end. I witnessed several folks who made the trek inbound only to find the barricades up, just climb over them. One man lifted his entire bike over the obstacles. Everyone who snuck through there told me the trail is fine. I stopped at La Prima. Completely empty at the early hour I arrived. Usually, there's a line 5 people deep.

I had a brisk, lovely beep-free ride both ways. 7 miles

Vannevar was kind enough to create a badge for Pittsburghers who complete the Errandonnee Challenge.
 Sweet. I'm honored.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My new theme song and the bewitched bike

On Tuesday, I stopped in the office briefly while on my day-long ride for a bathroom break and to refill my water. My co-workers remarked at my attire. Somehow, I wound up wearing all black. It wasn't intentional, I assure you. Black sweater, black skirt, black leggings and black shoes.

Co-worker #1:"You look like the Wicked Witch of the West on on a bike!"

"Holy crap, I do!"

Co-worker #2: (starts singing the Miss Gulch's Theme from the Wizard of Oz) "Dah dah da da nah NAH! Dah dah da da nah NAH!"

"... and your little dog too!"

Co-worker #1: "Bwahahahaha!"

Co-worker #2: "We need to get you a flying monkey."

Much amusement was had at my expense.

I rode past the office again later after the office was closed. I hear a faint "Dah dah da da nah NAH! Dah dah da da nah NAH!"coming from the parking lot. Co-worker #2: was walking to her car, saw me and decided to sing my theme music to me. Hilarious. I nearly crashed because I was laughing so hard.


Thursday, I tried to get a ride in on my lunch hour. It was 21 degrees with wind chills in the single digits... a far cry from the high 60's on Tuesday.

Over a small trail bump and I heard a clatter behind me. The reflector plate of the brand new rear light fell off. *Grumble* I collected the now-cracked plate and batteries, stashed them in my bag and went on my way. On the bright side, at least it didn't fall in the street where a car would squish it before I could collect the parts.

A few yards beyond that, the all-too-familiar smooshy feeling in the back tire returned. I got off and it kneeled next to the bike to squeeze the tire and a gust of wind toppled the bike over onto me. Arrgh!
Crushed under my own bike!? The indignity! 
I stewed for a few seconds, looking at all the piles of fresh goose crap around me and thought...."If I'm covered in goose shit, I'm going to...."

I clambered out from under Ruby, dusted myself off, happily discovered I was poop-free, uprighted the bike and by then the tire was completely flat.

I was suspicious before, but I was convinced now that there was a gap in the tire that was letting debris in to puncture the tube. I was less than a mile from the office, so I walked the bike back and called to see if Thick could see me later for a new tire.

On my way back, the ziptie that held the cadence magnet on broke and sent it flying down the hallway in the building. Well, at least it didn't break off in the street where I'd never find it.

OK, seriously. Enough bad luck for a while, please?

Thick decided I needed a new tire. They quickly changed it and I was on my way lickety split.

A fresh new tire. *crossing fingers*

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Another Errandonnee-ful day

Errandonnee #5

... after an early ride before class.

Errandonnee #6


I had a CPR/Heimlich and defibrillator class. I've always wanted to take this class, I had put it off too long. I'd missed the past few for various reasons, and I was glad to make it to this one.... finally.

I'm now officially certified to perform CPR and use a defibrillator.
I hope these are skills that I never have to use.

Errandonnee #7

Bike shop
I stopped in at Thick to see if they could remedy my recently acquired sticky shifter disease. I also wanted them to re-adjust my saddle, I think the nose position was the cause of my discomfort and I wasn't able to undo the bolt attaching the saddle. Someone had tightened it with man-strength. When I brought the bike into the shop and started telling Christy about what I was hoping to have looked at, I heard a hissing and looked down to see my rear tire deflating. Good thing I was at a bike shop!

Errandonnee #8

Lunch (2)

Amazing cafe'

Errandonnee #9

Shop (2)
I made a quick stop at the Port Authority. I needed to get my own ConnectCard. I was constantly borrowing a card that belonged to my husband for the times I needed to use the T.
(Translation: a ConnectCard is a debit card for our public transit system. The 'T" is our Trolley/Light Rail Vehicle system that runs elevated, underground and even in a tunnel under the Allegheny river.)

Errandonnee #10


Again, I was sharing a card with by beloved. He endured picking up my copies of Daft Punk  and Dead Kennedys CDs for me for far too long. I needed to get my own library card. He told me of the strange looks he'd get from the hipster librarians who would look at the CDs he was picking up, comment about how cool that particular band was and then look at my husband in his suit and tie and get a very confused look on their faces.

Errandonnee #11

Bike shop (2)

I had to stop here to return tubes. I was given the wrong size. Twice.
Not only that, but this bike shop also appeared prominently in a Fracking Company's TV commercial. This bike shop is dead to me.

I was riding behind a couple who looked like they were on new Wal-Mart bikes. The rear tire of the girl's bike was almost flat. She needed air. I called out to her and asked if she wanted to use my pump. They were so happy and grateful to have some air.

I discovered Vannevar has a doppleganger. I encountered a man who was cycling in Chateau who looked just like him, but at about 5 yards, I realized it wasn't him. Uncanny. Of course, I had a big old "Nice to see you!" grin on my face as he approached. I ran into him again in the Strip later.... again, grinning like a twit.
I confused the heck out of the guy, I bet.

I also saw a young woman on a huge unicycle

 and here's the Bastille bike police patrol

40 miles, a new record.

I ran into Yale yet again. I think he recognized me this time. I missed Vannevar and Terry because I left the South Side probably just as they were getting there. I rode until after dark and by that time I was hungry and my hands were numb, but a great day of errands and adventures.

W00t! I got my 20K steps badge and might even get a 25K badge all in one day!

Also in the good news department: I'm tied for first place in the FatCyclist contest!