Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bike Share ribbon cutting, Steel City Showdown

The mulberries are still not quite ripe at many of my haunts, must wait until June for the ripe, juicy deliciousness.

This blows.

Sunday was the official first day of Pittsburgh's Bike Share program. I got up early, met Marko, Yale and Jon to witness the roll out and then I rode back to work where I put in a few hours to make up for some time I took off for a wicked respiratory infection complete with barking cough, shivering sweaty fever, 15 hours of sleep a day, sinus issues and no appetite whatsoever. I'd lost 7 pounds and 2 days of work... and I never call off sick, so this was significant. I even saw doctors that gave me a nebulizer treatment which was surprisingly helpful in allowing me to breathe better.

County Exec Fitzgerald makes opening remarks.

Roll out!

I was finally 95% of my former self, I wanted to get out and watch the Steel City Showdown races, so after a few hours in the office I rode down and watched with a full crew: Marko, Jonathan, Paul, Sarah Q, Stef, Tricia, Ric... it was very nice to get out in the sun, talk with humans and even ride out a rainstorm in my raincape with them.
We watched 4 divisions, men's masters (45+), men's cat 3/4, the women's 1/2/3 and then the men's 1/2/3. It was interesting to feel the breeze the pack created as they raced by.
As we were leaving, a participant said to his friends waiting at the finish line: "I think I broke my arm." Odd, because we saw no crashes.

Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette

Marko: award-winning photobombing of Tricia's shot.

Marko and I left downtown and headed to Lawrenceville to check out Iron City Bikes 10th anniversary party. I was famished and was happy to see the Taco Truck parked there. I inhaled a chorizo taco and watched ICB raffling off wares and accessories. We also watched a stunt show.

So tired at the end of the day despite only riding 14 miles.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Waiting around the mulberry bush.

I'm anxiously awaiting the berries along the trails to start ripening in June. I was erroneously calling them raspberries last year, but I'm thinking they're actually mulberries.
Mis-identification aside, I can't wait for them to ripen, they're delicious. I can see the berries are still white and unripe right now.

I finally got a floor pump with a gauge. I wasn't having much luck with the other pumps in my life. I'm too short for the Dero station pumps. I have to nearly climb on top of the pump to use it.

I picked it up at Thick and have used it once so far. I smashed my hand against the brake rotors twice trying to get the valve unhooked. Twice. Other than that, I like the pump... nice height, the gauge works well.

1 pump, strapped to bike.
I've always wondered where this path off of Junction Hollow trail would take me, the maps say there's a lake in Schenley Park.
Where will this lead?

As it turns out, you need to illegally cross railroad tracks to get over to that lake. Nope. No thanks. Why does this show on Google Maps as a viable trail? Feh.

I rode out to the Waterfront and stopped to admire the hard work of a volunteer who cut back lots of knotweed. So awesome.
No knotweed encroachment here!
At the Waterfront, a fly-by-night bike rental place has popped up. Word's gotten around about the poor quality bikes and shady folks operating it already. Hmmm.

I was meeting someone for dinner at the Waterfront and discovered lots of parking near the restaurant. Nice.

Fizz looks lonely.

I was dismayed to discover that a small company that catered to women's bike clothing was going out of business. Their normally expensive bike pants were now affordable at 60% off.

I like them, but I can't seem to get the magnetic ankle strap thing to work. I can feel a magnet in the strap hidden inside the cuff, but I can't find the corresponding magnet to join it to.

I also found my new favorite bike shorts:

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!