Friday, May 30, 2014

Downtown Pride and Prejudice

I wanted to return to my weekly ritual of riding into Downtown to get takeout from Sree's Foods. I hadn't gone on a lunch hour run there on a bike since the fall and when I was still primarily using the Monster.

When I was using the Monster, at best I would make it back with just minutes to spare on my lunch hour. Today, I made it there, got my food, took some pictures of the new Gay Pride Parade banners and flags and made it back in 40 minutes. Yaaa! I'm faster! Waaaaay faster!

Heading back down Liberty, I had cars and trucks parked in the right lane between 9th and 8th, so I took the lane for a whole block. When there were no cars in the right lane I got over to the right and it was then that a car behind had enough of my 'blocking' the lane and revved her engine, buzzed me and accelerated up to the light at 7th and Liberty. She came to a screeching halt because the light was turning red and pedestrians were already in the crosswalk. She gestured at me angrily from inside her car. I asked her what her problem was through the rolled up windows and told her she needed a little bit of patience with a Robert DeNiro-esque hand gesture.


Then, she rolled down her window and told me I was "taking up the whole lane". I asked "where am I supposed to go? There's cars parked in that lane." She argued that there were not cars there. I pointed to a car parked behind us and "Right there. Are you blind? They can open a door and hurt me!" She still argued that I should have moved over. I asked "I'm supposed to squeeze between a parked car and a crazy driver? No thanks!" It was then that the light was green and she had enough of me. I caught up with her at two more lights. You can't get anywhere fast Downtown.
Even with the lack of the video camera, I managed to not curse at her or use any foul language.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Packing in the groceries and bug shields

Today, I went on two grocery runs. The first was to the Strip before work for fruit and a stop at PennMac to check out the fancy imported Italian cookies I've recently developed a taste for. They're fairly low in sugar and don't have ingredients like hydrogenated things and high-fructosy crap. Oh, and they're delicious. I like to keep cookies, crackers, dried fruit and nuts in the bike feed bag.
On the second run, after work, I went out to the Giant Eagle at the Waterfront: a 25 mile round trip grocery run.
I discovered the Labyrinth near the PumpHouse. Neat. I sat on the benches overlooking it and had a few cookies and re-hydrated.
I locked my bike to a signpost at the Iggle and went in search of fancy things in the dried fruit arena. Cranberries, papaya, dates and wasabi peas caught my eye. I was back on the roads and heading past Sandcastle when I saw a woman riding towards me in a full pith helmet and beekeepers netting around her head. Whoa. Yes, the bugs *were* bad. This woman was serious about not getting bugs in her face. I called out a "That. is. AWESOME!" to her and she replied with a "It works!"
I wasn't doubting that one bit at all.

I, too, was sick of the damned bugs. I ate a few recently and wasn't very happy about it. Thick was still open and carries the bug-buffs. I decided a stop was in order.
Adam greeted me and said that they did have bug-buffs... and OMG, a PINK one to match my jersey. Right below the buffs were a pair of hi-viz PINK fingerless gloves. They're killing me, how am I going to save money for a new bike if I keep spending on stuff I MUST have?

I've achieved a new level of dorkness:

I feel like I should be holding up a bank. *snap* A really fabulous bank.
31 miles and lots of nice snacks for upcoming rides. Nom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meet the former Queen Of Polish Hill.

Today, I got an email from Strava.

I was left to wonder. "What the heck is my QOM and how did I lose it?"

I quick Googling and I discover it means Queen of the Mountain.

Well, that's interesting. Strava has leaderboards for segments and hills, I learned after I poked around. As it turns out, I was the only woman to track a segment up Polish Hill. I was QOM by default... and I didn't even know it... until...

Um, yeah.... I won't be breaking her record up that hill. My head might explode. However, I will be thinking about beating my own record the next time I haul my ass up that hill. Thanks, Strava!

Currently, the KOM is 1:44. Dang.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Downhill both ways and BYOTP

I had the entire day to myself, I wrenched it from the clutches of Hubby. He wanted to do stuff that involved dragging me around and I fought hard and won. Victory!

I planned for a long (well, long for me) trip on the GAP. I packed snacks and sammiches: swiss, pickles and mustard on whole wheat and chocolate, peanut butter and banana on whole wheat. The latter would have been better on white bread, frankly.

Set out early, parked at the Pump House and was underway before 9AM.

 I was in McKeesport before too long.

Can't stop here. This is Dead Man country!
Birds: a saw either a bluebird or an indigo bunting. I couldn't tell and nearly crashed craning my neck to get a better view. Gorgeous creature.

I stopped in Dravo and lurked around the cemetery. This is my favorite headstone. Consort. I know that must have been controversial back then!

I tried my hand at getting the pump to work. It wasn't very cooperative.

Then a group of cyclists stopped and they seemed to be getting water out of it.

I went over to observe and see what the trick to getting water to come up was... and in the group was my favorite bike mechanic from Thick. We said our hellos and they liked my Black Flag tee shirt and loved the Errandonee and Coffeneuring patches and I think I convinced them to try this fall's challenges.

Things I saw along the way:


Ideas for future trips.

West Newton MADE!

I love Pittsburghese n'at!

I figured West Newton was 25 miles from the Pump House. A round trip would have put me at 50 miles for the day. A new record! I turned around and my energy levels stayed great most of the day until I hit Duquesne on the way back. Ugh, tired. There was no where to sit... so I just drank, ate a pear and stood still in the shade for a bit. I was able to carry on normally after that.


I was thankful for all the restrooms and portable johns, even the one at a housing project in McKeesport with a fresh memorial to someone shot(?) there.
Many didn't have toilet paper. I'm known to have some in my bag, and I was grateful to have it.

Downhill both ways

The entire way out to West Newton, I kept saying to myself: "Geez, this looks entirely downhill, this will be harder and take longer to get back up to Homestead."
Yet, on the way back, I said to myself: "Whoa, this looks and feels downhill too! How can that be?"

Could the planets aligned perfectly to not only give me excellent weather, no wind, but shift the axis of the planet as well to grant me: Downhill, both ways?
Huh. That four-leafed clover I found yesterday had extra special powers.

Gypsy Moth Caterpillars

I rested in the grass near aptly named Buena Vista and had a lovely view

While I attempted to snooze in the grass, I noted that things from the trees above me kept falling on me. I assumed they were leaves. Um, no. Gypsy moth caterpillars!

These things are everywhere. I can't help but have the squished guts of hundreds of them mashed in the treads of my tires and the fenders are caked with carcasses. Gross. They make a horrible popping noise too. *shudder*

40 miles in and I decided to do some flower-picking for Ruby.

After 40 miles, neither of us was fresh as a daisy. She was coated in a layer of dust and I was sweaty, dusty, sun-burned and covered in bug guts too.

51.7 miles today. 

...and now for a bit of all-in-good-fun snarky competitiveness:

Yesterday's National Bike Challenge standings. Welcome to the top 30!

Today's top 30. HA!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Turn Turn Turn

December 8th

May 24th
If I made a hasty decision, it was to forgo blogging while I'm going through a rough patch in my life. I enjoy it far too much to give it up, even temporarily. Much like cycling, it distracts me from the dark thoughts looming with my challenges and ordeals, which seem to be hitting from several directions.
My hiatus lasted all of a few days.

Ruby came home with me on Friday so I could ride with her on non-city trails this long weekend.
I left Saturday morning and told Hubby that I wouldn't be very long, that I was 'just going out for a quickie.' 
I love how a "quickie" today is a 25 mile ride.
5 months ago, 20 miles was a record for me.

Again, I took the roads from the house to the trailhead and it was angst-less, even with a fairly close pass from an Ohio-plated truck. I do believe I've grown a pair in regards to cycling in traffic.


My favorite Montour graffiti is still there.
December 8th

May 24th
When I stopped to take this picture, someone from a group a cyclists said and pointed to my bike: "I need one of those!" "One of what?""A bike bag, I can't stand this backpack." and she squirmed uncomfortably under a huge bag strapped to her back.
I warned her and her companions that once you get one, you fill it and need yet another bag.

I found a nice place to rest, snack and drink. I also found two 4-leafed clovers while I laid in the grass. The worst thing about this spot is that it's right next to a port-o-john. It may also be the best thing about this resting spot.
I was happy to have brought a large towel to act as a prophylactic buffer between me and the grass and the critters that lived in it. Lying in the grass is as close to camping as I'll get.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Off the Air

off the air

Ride of Silence

The ride was postponed, but roughly 15-20 of us decided to tough out the threat of thunderstorms and ride anyway. This was lead by Jim L whom I'd only met before on business-related matters and it was nice to speak with him in a more relaxed atmosphere. He provided black armbands and spoke before hand about those cyclists we'd lost in the past year.
The route was more-or-less a tour that passed by some of the places where cyclists were killed.
I noticed Dan Y of BikePGH showed up just as we were about to leave. I wanted to introduce myself...I'd been working with him via email on getting a bike rack at our office for a few months now and missed an opportunity to meet him on the day of the Pedal to the Pantry ride. I'd happened upon his group while walking in Bloomfield while they were assisting an elderly woman who'd fallen in the street. She was bloodied and they were calling an ambulance for her. I decided that wasn't a good time to say hello to him. I made a potential faux-pas by catching up to him at a light with on the ride and broke the Silence and said a quick hello and introduction. After the ride, Dan and I had a chance to chat and it was nice to finally meet such an amazing person after hearing so much about him and working with him.

The ride was uneventful and went smoothly save the mechanical problems Jim L was having with his bike. Not a drop of rain fell on us.
I neglected to take photos. *shrug*

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A weekend of Grand Openings (part 2)

Rode along the Montour Trail for the morning waiting for the groundbreaking of the work to be done on the Library Viaduct:

I stopped for a snack at My Big Fat Gyro and had some grape leaves which really hit the spot and as I was leaving, I saw someone riding a gorgeous green Rivendell with a double top tube. Surely that was Rusty! I had to haul ass to catch up with him. He was heading to the groundbreaking too. When we got there, we were far too early so he decided to show me the detour around the viaduct, which was great as I was reluctant to try and negotiate the roads by myself which aren't very well marked.

I took a spill trying to negotiate a hill and thought I had escaped unscathed but I have a nasty-looking scratch on my shin. It looks worse than it is. I didn't realise how steep the inside of the turn was and bailed the bike. The pedal must have fallen on my shin.

One day, when I get road rash, this won't look so bad to me!

I was very glad to learn the detour and see this important ceremony. 30 miles.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A weekend of Grand Openings (part 1)

On Saturday, I tried riding via the North Side's RiverWalk, but the recent rains caused the Allegheny and Ohio to flood thier banks.

Amazing Cafe Grand Opening

I rode over to the South Side for lunch at the Grand Opening of what was already my favorite restaurant. Amazing Cafe! It was an official opening with fanfare, free samples and balloons! I sampled the vegan cupcakes... I hadn't known they had desserts there!

  I chose a rosewater/pistachio cupcake, which was divine.

Also stopped in Thick Bikes to see if they could replace my almost-broken mount for my B&M taillight. My favorite mechanic not only found me a replacement mount, but he fixed my stripped screw issue for the plate cover... at no charge! I think the tipping is working.

The merits of a 'girly' color.

I saw they had in stock an item I'd been looking for for some time: a hi-viz pink short sleeved jersey! I had to get it. I'd fallen in love with my hi-viz pink winter jersey. I'd gotten tons of comments from everyone about how awesome it's hi-vizzyness was.

Pudge likes the hi-viz pink too!
Can you see me now?

 Adam and Chris at Thick have often said they want hi-viz pink items for men and have asked their vendors to start making them in men's sizes. Yale even commented that he wanted to get some HVPink items, and weighed the pros and cons of a man wearing pink. In regards to the harassment from drivers, he said: "Well, they give us cyclists enough grief, wearing pink won't make much of a difference."

I'm still on the lookout for a HV pink small size reflective vest. The adult size yellow reflective vests are way too long for someone of my height. The vest gets caught on the saddle every time I stop at a light. HV pink seems to be very popular in the UK, I gets tons of hits on eBay UK when looking for pink vests.

I noticed the "heART THIS CITY" mural has been moved over by the Hot Metal Bridge.

I got hit with a cloudburst on the way back, but I was prepared.


The grime and gunk on Ruby was bugging me. I decided that since I was bringing her back to the house for tomorrow's trip, I would hose her off in a do-it-yourself car wash. I spent $1.75 to see if the tire soak solvent would get the black brake goop off the rear wheel. It got some of it off, but not as much as I'd like.


After. Meh.