Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Variety Show

Another save with the tools...

I was unlocking my bike from the rack at PNC Park after Thursday's afternoon baseball game and the two gentlemen locked up next to Ruby had a flat. They asked if I had tools. Do I have tools??!? Why, yes, I do as a matter of fact! Score! They went to work on their flat and had my lever back to me before I had Ruby unlocked and roadworthy.


Interactions with Strip District Legends:

Photo credit: Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

 After 25 years of living in Pittsburgh, I've finally gone through a rite of passage: being called "Dearheart" by Carol Pascuzzi. I don't recall what cheese she sold me, but who cares? I'm officially a Pittsburgher now.

On another of my morning trips into the Strip, I stopped at Jimmy and Nino Sunseri's shoppe. Jimmy himself rang up my order after trying to sell me on a batch of bread he'd just pulled from the ovens. He noted my yellow reflective vest and helmet and commented that he liked the safety factor. He lamented that when he arrives for work every morning at 5:30AM there are many cyclists coming down Penn Ave with no lights in the dark. I told him about the Free Lights program BikePGH has. Interesting conversation.

Goodwill points: destroyed.

Whenever I travel into the Strip on my morning trips, I pass by several police officers manning pedestrian crossings. I make a point of smiling, nodding and/or greeting the officers in some way. They man these crossings because not too long ago there, a pedestrian was hit and dragged to her death. Returning from Friday's trip, I made a tremendous error. I won't make any excuses for my blunder, I screwed up royally and I fully deserve the officer's wrath. Distracted by a car turning in the bike lane, I thought the officer was finished taking a pedestrian across the street and proceeded through the intersection just as the officer was coming back through the crosswalk. He calmly scolded me, and I instinctively stopped and apologized. Then, he scolded me yet again for stopping after the fact, beyond the crosswalk. Arrgh. I needed a hole to crawl into and die I was so mortified. I apologised again and scurried away with my tail between my legs. I'm an asshole cyclist who pisses off police officers. Way to go, shithead.
I'll never regain those goodwill points. When is the Strip Trail going to be re-opened so I can avoid Penn Avenue?!!?

The hair goes... somewhere.

3 ten-inch ponytails
I spent Saturday off the bike attending to errands and such. I went for my annual haircut and discovered that I had grown enough hair for yet another donation to Locks of Love. This was the third time I've been able to donate over the years. I've always wondered what poor child is doomed to get a wig made from my hair. It's a very odd feelingto lose 12 inches of hair. It takes some getting used to and I felt compelled to forewarn my friends, family and co-workers via social media of the dramatic change in my appearance. Some people freak out when I hack off the locks. Once before when I cut off all the hair, a person said to me: "Oh, it'll grow back." Gee, thanks for the compliment. 

I wondered how my shorter hair would fare under the bike helmet, I am used to wrapping it up in a ponytail and being on my way with no issues with the helmet. This may present a helmet-hair problem that I'm not accustomed to.

Sunday was a day I'd planned on riding, literally. I'd mapped out the places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to see with maps and guides as well. I packed a soft-sided cooler with ice, fruit and lunch.

Iron City ShowDown

Giant Bovine Huckster of TaintButter

55+ Masters (AKA "Geezers' Dash")

Junior Women's Podium!
 See the rest of the photos here:

Old Allegheny Gardens and bikes not welcome at the Aviary

While I waited for the Blessing of the Bikes to begin I thought I might putz around the National Aviary. I found no bike rack, so I tried to loop around a lamppost in part of the parking lot, but found it very difficult. The director of education walked by and noted my frustration. "No bike racks..." I told her. She found a groundskeeper who told me there was a small rack on the Arch Street side of the Aviary. I thanked them for their help and rode around to Arch street and found no rack, just cigarette butt receptacle posts. Feh. I gave up and decided to roll around through the Mexican War Streets instead. They've not heard the last of me.

I found a gem that I've only heard and read about:

Not much is growing just yet,  but the art and eclectic additions were photo worthy.

See the rest of the photos here:







I also poked my head over a fence across the street when I noticed a mural in someone's backyard:


The Blessing of the Bikes.

My bike certainly needed a blessing after Friday's mishap. I'm not at all a religious person, but certainly Spiritual in some ways. I respect the religious views of others and am married to someone who attends religious services regularly. My husband is one of the few people I've met who didn't balk at my lack of faith, accepted it and not once dared to question my beliefs or try and sway me to the other side.
I love the artistic devotion in the architecture of churches, synagogues and mosques. I could stare all day at a stained glass window. So when I heard there was a 'Blessing of the Bikes' to be performed at a church on the North Side, I was very intrigued. Here was an opportunity to visit an old Pittsburgh church now occupied by a very open congregation that welcomed and embraced the GLBT community.

The blessing went very well, the pastor even snuck in a mention about the "jerks who try and cut us off.."

The rest of the photos are here:

Iron City Bikes Grand Opening: Larryville

I fully expected there to be a SALE. "Grand Opening" means discounts, right? No sales. Feh. I did find a nice ICB/Pirates themed tee shirt that I couldn't pass up.

Allegheny Cemetery

After doing some prep-work for a another visit to this historic place, I learned what the colored lines through the Cemetery mean and I intended to follow the green line for the historic sections and determined what section Josh Gibson's grave is located in. I was armed with maps and guides of the cemetery.
Interestingly, Pittsburgh Mural's tweeted this very morning the Negro League bronze statues at PNC Park of Mr Gibson and other legends of segregated baseball. Seeing that tweet got a big 'Wow' from me as I had planned on visiting Mr Gibson's resting place in just a few hours.

I referred to the map frequently to find section 50 and hit a few tough hills on the way.

Someone's lovingly placed a baseball and catcher's gear at his grave. Wow, he was only 36 when he died?
The deer stared at me and even approached as I rode by.
You're going to need a bigger bike.

I stayed in section 50 and ate lunch under a tree not far from his grave. It was a gorgeous day. The long hill up to Penn Ave wasn't nearly as bad as the first time I rode it. I refilled my water bottles at the faucet at the top of the hill.

 See the rest of the photos here:

I left the Cemetery, found my way down to Neville Street (and, I didn't miss the turn!) and down to the South Side for a pit stop at REI. I had wanted to ride down past the Pump House, but my phone's battery was low for some reason. I should look for a backup battery, it's not lasting as long as it used to. I also didn't want to run the gauntlet of Eagle Watchers, so I headed home.

A wonderful day, 26 miles and my hair was unphased by the helmet.

I tried using the Endomondo app on my phone today because it syncs with the Rust Belt Challenge. I like it just as much as Strava.


  1. totally tremendous blog post. btw, I think those police stand at those intersections because the local businesses hire them as extra details to keep their employees alive (said the media reports when the woman got killed). Good effect, rather mercenary cause.

  2. Wow! Very nice ride and I love all the pictures! Certainly a lot to see and experience in your neck of the woods!

  3. Y'know, you are a wonderful representative of USA. Every time I channel-hop and find Honey Boo-Boo (?) or the Kardashians or hear horrible news about state punishment I remember there is Red. And Leroy Jethro Gibbs. :-)

    1. Thanks, TSR...I can't tell you what a tremendous compliment this is and it made my day! Not all of us in the States are the toothless backwater dolts and empty-headed vapid twits that our media loves to shove down our throats. I hope the popularity of Cosmos is the beginning of a backlash against that sort of gawdawful entertainment.


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