Sunday, April 26, 2015

Table for one, getting to first base and milled road surfaces

I headed to OTB today for lunch, they were just opening the doors and a few cyclists were literally waiting to get in, the gorgeous weather brought us out.

I sat down and was presented two menus and brought two waters. No, sorry. I'm alone. Thanks for the reminder. I tried some local Wigle whiskey for the first time. Very good stuff: less smokey than most whiskeys, which I liked very much.

Putzed around, rode out to the Waterfront and back, noticed the floating house on the South Side.

I was going to head back to base and call it a day, but I bumped into Marko and since we were both just putzing around, why not putz around together? I like it when this happens, it keeps me pedaling longer than I would have, burning more calories. I probably tacked on an additional 10 miles instead of loafing around the house. This is a good thing.

We tried to head out to the Poet Tree, but we forgot and just rode on past it. Oh well.

We forged on to Lawrenceville and rode on the freshly milled Butler Street. Cripes, this is difficult on a bike, those damned ruts are a nightmare. I was happy to see Pittsburgh 'normal' pothole-riddled streets after riding on that!

It's a miracle I didn't faceplant.

Marko showed me where home plate from Exposition Park is located. It was the Pirates first ballpark, before Forbes Field. It's marked with yellow paint in a parking lot on the North Shore.

Honus Wagner stood here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Betabrand's Bike-To-Work skirt

I bought one of these skirts last year in gray and I've spent the past year loving it. It's durable and functional, the zippers work well on the gussets and it looks great as both office wear and super cute as cycling wear. The back pocket is reflective too.

I decided to get the black version a year later. Because: BLACK. Despite all the hi-viz you see me wearing here on the blog/cycling, I'm a 80-s punk/goth black-loving weirdo. I gravitate towards black. "I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel in the inside." It's very Johnny Cash-esque.

But, I digress... back to this awesome skirt:

It's a tad expensive, but with a coupon and free shipping, it makes it less painful on the wallet.

Use caution at Betabrand's cart checkout: I approved a lower amount on my credit card then found out later that the amount charged to my card was a higher amount (minus the coupon I'd worked hard for!) so I had to fight to get that refunded to my card.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bike grease and laundry perils

Somehow, I got chain grease on my pink windbreaker... arrgh. I wasn't even working on the bike, it just appeared.

I grabbed some Dawn dishwashing liquid from the office's kitchen, and that didn't do anything to break up the grease.
Also, my co-workers made fun of the way I said 'Dawn'.
In Pittsburgh, they say "DAAAHN". I... having grown up near Philly, actually use the W that's in Dawn and I say it with an extra nasally flair.
Accents aside, I was upset that the go-to grease stain remover had failed me. I really didn't want these black smudges on my super-awesome jacket. I took it home and tested a spot with some Goo-Gone before applying it to the stain. Thankfully, the Goo-Gone didn't stain the jacket and I tried it on the grease and chucked it into the washing machine. I also wanted to see if the Goo-Gone would get rid of the mussels oil I had splattered all over my pink jersey months ago. I was never able to get the oil stains out.
What was I thinking? This stuff is pure oil... orange oil!
Oil + Oil ≠ (-Oil)

Never use this stuff on clothes, EVER!

Good news: the Goo-Gone broke up the grease a bit, but not completely.

Bad news: the orange oil based Goo-Gone ruined the pink jersey! The somewhat visible stains were now atrociously hideous and BROWN! OMG, what have I done?!?

Fels Naptha to the rescue. I used this old-school laundry soap on the orange oil stains, full strength and washed it again, pleading with the Laundry Gods to have mercy.
It worked. Whew.
Not only did the Fels Naptha take care of the GooGone stains, but it took care of the set-in mussels stains. So awesome.

I keep Fels Naptha around the house to make my own laundry soap. I've been making/using it for a few years and it literally costs under $2.50 to make a 5 gallon bucket of the stuff. So much money saved considering it runs 4-6 dollars for a gallon of commercial detergent. This is the first time I've used the soap full-strength as a pre-treater.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Social anxieties and The Poet Tree

In the evening, I rode to BikePGH!'s offices for a meeting/orientation thing. I force  myself into social situations in the hopes that I'll become less awkward.

Jane and Becca asked us to pair up with another volunteer to bone up on our verbal combat of common BikeLash phrases.

Lo and behold, I was paired up with another seemingly socially awkward man. We dutifully completed our assignment quickly and while the other pairs of volunteers chatted gleefully, we silently fidgeted and such.
Overall, the meeting went well: free pizza and it didn't rain on me!

On the way back I stopped to see an interactive art installation along the trail.

Go ahead, create a poem!

So, I did... sort of...

The Poet Tree even has birds.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Engaging the enemy

If there's a lesson I hadn't learned before Saturday, it was: Stop banging on the windows of a dangerous driver. He didn't give a crap about you or the pedestrians he didn't yield for before, he's not going to give any more of a crap about safe driving after you get into a shouting match with him through the passenger window.

Dangerous drivers do things like this to cyclists who try and educate unsafe drivers though the vehicle's windows:

Saturday's incident was ugly, really ugly.

I'm done. There's nothing I can do for or to these people. Calling the police doesn't accomplish anything.

I just need to let my anger go and enjoy my ride until one of them kills me.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cluster****, forgetting stuff and defective stuff

Sunday was a great day to get out on the bike, the new Clemente bridge bike lane was open and it seemed everyone was out jogging, riding a bike and trying the new bike infrastructure. Everyone: noobs, older folks, families with kids in training wheels. WOW. There were also cyclist counting devices installed to count us! Yes! We count! 

 I decided to ride back and forth on the counters from the Strip and back to the North Shore a few times, because: shopping in the Strip! The gap in infra between the bridge and the bike lane was a challenge for the noobs, they hopped onto the sidewalk, stopped and looked befuddled when cars were parked in the bike lane and made erratic unpredictable moves around the parking garage there.

I nearly got left hooked in the Strip, a pedestrian on a cell phone stepped out in front of me again, cyclists riding on the sidewalk rode out in front of me in an intersection. So much insanity. I ran into PaulB Downtown when the insanity was at it's height and he said: "This is CRAZY!" in regards to the incredible numbers of people in Downtown on a Sunday afternoon.


Monday was the first day of a season of baseball in Pittsburgh, the Home Opener. I rode down to the park rather early anticipating long lines at the new walk-through metal detectors, no lines though. This was good. However, bike parking: was hard to find! I had to ride past several full racks to find a space.

I'd forgotten to wear my new cycling sandals. I'd left my Birkenstocks on accidentally. Thankfully, they'd didn't fall off in traffic, which is a fear of mine.

Wednesday, I'd forgotten to bring in all my bike shorts I'd laundered. They were all hanging on the clothes line at home. I'd have to run an errand to the Library without them. I'd become accustomed to wearing them: would I survive? Yes, I lived.

Today, I wanted to use some cheap iron-on reflective tape I'd found in bulk at Ollie's. I'd picked up 4 packages of grey and 2 packages of orange.

I was worried it was relegated to Ollies and steeply discounted because it was defective. I was right, partially. The orange worked fine, I tested it on a tee shirt and it adhered like every other iron-on reflective tape I've used and reflects well. I was looking to make one of my thrift store blazers that I wanted to use as commuter gear more visible in the wee dark hours.

The grey was a nightmare to work with: one of the films would not release from the reflective tape, I had to rip off the first strip I'd ironed on and try and remove the clear film before ironing. It was difficult and frustrating, but it worked.


While running an errand on Thursday, I encountered these interesting obstacles:


A film crew.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nature: powerful and beautiful

Friday I saw some badassery that I was rather jealous of:

The RiverWalk was flooded after vicious storms, the wind was whipping waves and debris onto it as well. As I was taking a photo, a cyclist appeared, he had ridden through all the water and mud and river flotsam. I gave him a "Nicely done!" as he approached and he told me there wasn't too much splashing. I was actually thinking: "You're crazy!"


The ankle is turning some interesting colors:

Lines: tube sock indentations... not a strange rash!

I've crocheted a  cozy for my u-lock.
Because I can.

You know you want one.

Saturday was glorious, I spent much of the day riding.

Some kite flyers.

The bollards are in on the Clemente Bridge bike lane!

Rode out to the Waterfront and found a huge patch of daffodils on the way.

On the way back, several motorists were rather unkind if not murderous towards me.

After dinner, a glorious sunset over swollen rivers.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Leg Cramp Prevention

I have terrible issues with leg cramps. When I started cycling daily, they only got worse and migrated to muscles I wasn't accustomed to getting cramping issues with.

Since my teenage years,  I got the 'normal' nighttime calf cramps on a regular basis. Bananas and keeping hydrated kept them to a minimum. I've not tried quinine or strange things like sleeping with a bar of soap.

hydration and potassium: good
 When I started cycling regularly, I started getting cramps in new muscles: the front of the calf (tibialis anterior) as well as the toes and top of the foot. Not much fun.

They weren't the worst though: I was getting horrific cramps in my inner thigh: the gracillis
I tried pickles and pickle juice, they helped a bit, but I was still getting cramps after a ride, sometimes all of the muscles cramping at once. Occasionally I'd get them in the middle of a ride.

 It is utterly excruciating pain.

Pickle juice works well.
When I started reading that magnesium helps with muscle cramps, I researched foods that have magnesium because tablet supplements don't agree with me (or many people for that matter: they're very distressing to one's digestive system). Coffee is high in magnesium, and I already drink a ton of that. Another food high in magnesium is a weed called 'dock'.
Sorry, my grocery store is always out of dock. Additionally, there were clams, purslane, swiss chard and many other green leafy weeds and such. I like green leafies, especially seaweed and kale, but I don't eat enough of them.

I found I'd had a liquid magnesium supplement already in my possession that I'd stopped taking after the first dose because it tasted so bad. It's processed water from Utah's Great Salt Lake. It's supposed to contain a myriad of minerals we don't absorb from foods very well, mainly magnesium.
I tried taking this liquid again, but this time I learned to chase it with a beverage like coffee or water to get rid of the awful taste.

Ionic magnesium liquid

So, after suffering much of the winter not riding and still having that constant feeling of a spasm about to take hold, it stopped when I started taking the liquid magnesium. I went on 20 and 40 mile rides and didn't spend the evening dealing with pain. Wow, this might be my magic wand.