Sunday, June 29, 2014

PittsburghLand and Serenity on a Bike

I set out early and was on my way for a day without any agenda. I was just riding aimlessly.

A domestic goose has taken up with the Canada geese.

Bathrooms still closed at the Millvale trailhead. Booo.

Stopped for air at BikePGH!
In Lawrenceville, I stopped at LaGourmandine. I love that place. I got a raspberry tart and an apricot croissant to snack on throughout the day.

Rode up through Allegheny Cemetery and admired the shark headstone again.

 I thought it would be a good idea to find out where the WheelMill is because I want to take the Fundamentals of City Cycling class with Karen Brooks sometime soon.

Dodged potholes and other interesting things in the road.

I stumbled on the Cheryls at Friendship and Negley!

I found Serenity on my bike.
In addition to Serenity, I also eventually found The WheelMill after getting lost in East Liberty a few times. Not really a big deal, this is how I learn routes, getting slightly off track and re-orienting myself.

Am I going the right way?

Had lunch at Amazing Cafe: miso soup and a clean-green juice
I headed out to the Waterfront, used the facilities and got some cold Mitchell's water. On the way back, I ran into Marko who was meeting Yale to ride around aimlessly too! Wow, 3 people aimlessly wandering meet up and wander aimlessly together!

Marko clued me into a Tag-O-Rama tag and we all claimed a group tag!

Yale threw out some ideas of places to ride to and when he mentioned RandyLand, I got excited, I'd heard about it, but hadn't yet trekked over there. Yale took us on a tour of the North Side Millionaire's Row and the place of the Immaculate Reception.

Then, we hit RandyLand. Wow.

I need to return and deposit one of my negative thoughts
He also took us by a new Little Free Library and the owner just happened to pull up as we were admiring it. Excellent guy.

I was promised to Hubby for dinner and they were kind enough to keep me company on my way there, I offered to treat them both to dinner, Marko had to depart (but not before trying to entice my spouse into a life of cycling), but Yale took me up on the offer and the three of us had an Indian buffet dinner in Oakland. Yale noted how many bikes were locked up outside the restaurant.  We had no room to lock up and were forced to hitch our steeds across the street. It's a cyclist hotspot.
Hubby departed in the car and then the skies opened up on the way back to base, which Yale escorted me back to. I had to don the raincape.

A great day, 55.3 miles.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Soldier Ride and Critical Mass in the South Hills

I passed by the Duquesne Incline's parking lot on my morning ride to see preparations for this year's Soldier Ride.

Here's some info I found on last year's ride:

 Critical Mass Ride

I set out after work to attend my first CM ride. I had time to grab a bite at Conflict Kitchen. My choice was rather ironic as we were about to be verbally accosted.

 A group of 9 in total. We rode the foreboding hills of the South. Hills, Hills and more damned Hills. Aggressive drivers shouting obscenities at us reared their ugly heads too.

Some video of unkind drivers (12:12)

The hills, wow. They whooped my ass.  The downhill was awesome though.

Fastest speed recorded, ever.

 I managed to shave a whole 23 seconds off my 18th Street climb. I also did much better on Polish Hill.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Over the hill(s)

Started the day with some Juneberry picking at the convention center and a ride through the Point where Regatta preparations are being made with the Sandsculpture:

Picked up lunch at Sree's and saw the Party Pedaler roll by:
Front view
Rear view
Later, after work, I opted for the Phat Tuesday Thick Bikes ride. Again, I was the oldest and most out-of-shape attendee.

Here's a few shots of the few times that the group was behind me, the majority of the time they were ahead which caused me to haul ass a bit faster than I normally would on my own. The kids gave me a workout again. I was curious enough about Adam's Laser Cats jersey that I googled it and found that it's a SNL skit. That's a show I rarely stay up to watch anymore because, well... I'm old. I should watch a bit of Laser Cats on YouTube, I would probably enjoy it.

Half the group took the roads through the Waterfront
Being old, I have a curfew and had to turn around and ditch the group after the Waterfront.
I picked some raspberries on the way back.

Hmm, riding with a younger, fitter crowd earned me a nice Personal Best!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hobbled and the crutch of cycling.

I'd been off the bike for several days traveling by car to see family. Seeing some of them debilitated by age and infirm, seeing them in pain and learning that half the family refused to show up to the event due due to minor squabbles in our dysfunctional family saddened me. It was good to see relatives I'd not seen in years and speak with them despite these issues.

I like to do two things as a passenger in a car. Sleep and read.

In the book I'm currently reading, a line jumped out at me as if the page's corner had been folded and the sentence highlighted:

"This hobble of being alive is rather serious, don’t you think so?"

I tallied my life's worries and regrets. For all the time I spend tormented by them, they were surprisingly commonplace in the grand scheme of Humanity's misery. I took note of the form my crutches took to combat the Hobble. Today the crutch takes the form of getting lost on the bike. I can temporarily erase a nagging negative thought or physical annoyance. It was physically and mentally relaxing and I found strength in it. It was my fourth day without a ride to bring me any serenity and long overdue.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Whiskey, wings and a belly full of mulberries

Last week, Marko reminded me on the Phat Tuesday ride while we were riding along the Eliza Furnace trail that there were lots of mulberry bushes. I hadn't picked wild mulberries since I was a kid tromping around the swamp that is known as Heinz Wildlife Refuge. This was the neighborhood kids' refuge too, it was a place adults wouldn't follow kids. It was ours. So many memories…. But I digress.

I had plenty of time this morning and rode out on the EFT and became ravenous. Seeing that the berry bushes were ripe, triggered by Marko's berry conversation and Vannevar's blogpost about #foragneuring, I stopped and had breakfast.
Free, organic mulberries! Life is good.

In the evening, I was free to ride after work. I headed over to the South Side and was pleased to find they've repaired the crumbling sections of the walkway at Station Square where cyclists are known to wipe out.

I dined at OTB where I succumbed to whiskey and seitan wings again. It's the only thing I've ever ordered there. Why can't I try something different?

Along the South Side trail I noted many more mulberry bushes. A cyclist coming in the opposite direction stopped in front of one as I approached and acted as if he was waiting for me to pass before he would start picking berries. I said "Go for it, they're delicious." He just smiled and reached for the branches.

Further down the trail, I too stopped and had a few berries of my own.

Made it out to the Waterfront, used the facilities at Barnes and Noble and reversed and snacked yet again.

 32 miles and I made it home just before a nasty line of thunderstorms made it's way through.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Fly6 Cam (AKA: "AssCam")

Gentle reader, good to see you're interested in what I think of the Fly6! Welcome!

I've had the Fly6 for over 3 months and have now adapted it to fit on the racks of two different bikes. They're described below.

  • The first adaptation is a PVP pipe for my Cannondale. Scruffy, but it served its purpose.

  • The second adaptation was for my Surly Long Haul Trucker's rear rack. It was conceived and fabricated by my LBS. It looks sleek and smart and is very sturdy. You can read about this further down the page.


I finally got the Fly6 camera ( after waiting 3.5 months for it to be produced and shipped from a kickstarter/crowdfunded program. It arrived 6/16 and I was able to test it out on a morning ride 6/17


  • You don't have to keep deleting files to free up space on it like you do with the ContourCam
  • It's a rear blinky too!
  • 15 minutes chunks of video are much easier to deal with.
  • an extra mount is provided for ease of transfer from bike to bike.


  • The Fly6 .avi files don't talk to my Mac, to work around this, I've downloaded an .avi viewer so my Mac can view the video. Another program (Handbrake) is necessary to convert the .avi files into .mp4 files that I can edit in iMovie. (Thanks readers, for your help with this issue!)
  • The seatpost mount design doesn't take into account we might be wearing a skirt or have a rack and baggage back there. I'd like to mount it further back on the rack. See below for the adaptations to mount on a rack.
  • I can't figure out how to properly adjust the date, this is a failing on my part, I'm certain.

Here's the first test video with it mounted on the seatpost. You get a great view of the rear rack and sometimes when my skirt comes down over the back of the saddle, you get an awesome view... well... up my skirt.
I'm hoping to mount this on the back of the rack (with an attachment of some sort) to get a better view of things on the road instead of my rack, panniers and the inside of my skirt.

< insert rack and upskirt jokes here >

So, this is what it looks like to be a pair of bike shorts!

After some adjustments, I was able to angle the camera a bit better. Now, only a quarter or a third is taken up with rack and baggage instead of half the screen.

Wearing a raincape obscures more of the field of view, even when I'm careful to tuck it under my ass.

Even more interesting is the video I found on the camera's card of the women in the Chinese factory testing my device. Ummm. Not sure what to think about that. I mean, I know there are people in Asian countries who make all of our gadgets, but to SEE her on my camera! Wow.

I want to know how long a charge of the battery lasts and if I'll be able to find the perfect spot to mount the camera.

6/23/14 Adapted Mount

I went in search of PVC pipe at Home Depot as an inexpensive means to mount the camera to the rear rack. Not my best work, but certainly not the worst thing I've seen strapped to a bike in ramshackle fashion.

I'll snip off the extra ends of the zipties promptly.

The resulting video from this new mount is much better. However, It's displaced my Busch und Müller rear light. I'll need to find a new place for it.

I used a bit of reflective/hi-viz scraps to try and disguise the fact that my camera mount is a j-bend sink trap.

No rack or bags to obscure the field of view.

6/29/14 Storage and battery life

I went on a day long ride so this would be a great test of how long the battery would last and how many hours of recording the camera would store.
It appears that the battery died sometime around 3:45 in the afternoon (5.5 hours of running time?) and it had erased some of the morning's recordings before I could review them. I seem to have 4.25 hours of video stored. Good, but I may want to look into upgrading a 32GB card from the 16GB card if I want to store recordings of long rides.

7/8/14 Stability of video images while camera is mounted to PVC pipe:

Fly6 manufacturers dissuade us from mounting to anything other than the seatpost for optimal quality.
Judge for yourself!

7/9/14 Hello, World!

So, I'm aware now that Fly6 has posted this blog entry at their "Reviews" page. Awesome, welcome to my blog, potential Fly6 customers!

Turnabouts are fair play, I suppose... because Fly6 seems to have reviewed my bike in turn:

I'm sure the Aussies at Fly6 meant 'bonza', not 'busy'.     Right? RIGHT?!?

Also, I dig being called "PVC Chick"

7/10/14 Comparison of the brightness/visibility of the Fly6 lights next to various other rear blinkys.

A dark room was used for this but at some point I'd like to try the comparison at night from several car lengths back.

Rear lights compared:

I hired a serial killer to create the text on this image. Scary, huh?

Again, this is a personal preference. There's a clear winner as far as brightness goes and that's the Cygolite Hotshot. Personally, I use more than one rear blinky at night and that's because I'm a bit of a spaz. I like the circular pattern the LEDs flash at drivers. The flashing pattern is something different that they aren't used to seeing and it may get their attention.
Is it bright/visible enough? Sure.

Now, bear in mind the Fly6 isn't just about catching asshat motorists engaging in dangerous driving, you might catch some funny and interesting things on your camera back there. I love this image I got on a group ride when two ladies riding behind me discovered that there was a camera pointed at them.

Yes, that's a camera.


Since I've started this review, I've obtained a second bike that I also wanted to attach the Fly6 to. I tried using the aero post adaptor that Fly6 provided and attach it to the rear rack of my Surly. I was forced to use *gasp* duct tape to keep the adaptor in place. I hated putting duct tape on my bike! In addtion to the ghastlyness of duct tape, the camera wobbled around a fair amount as you can see in this video.

My lovely new bike had duct tape on it AND I wasn't getting optimal video.

So when I was at my LBS (Thick Bikes in Pittsburgh for those of you keeping score) the next day,  I asked Chris, the owner if he had any suggestions to get a stable mount for the camera. He disappeared with my bike and returned a few minutes later with this thing of beauty:

The sturdy, sleek mount next to the ugly duct tape.

He'd grabbed an old seatpost tube they had lying around, ground off the sharp edges and drilled a hole to attach it to the center of the rack; Surly racks have an accessory-mounting hole.

I was ecstatic. I almost hugged him.

Here's some video from the new, sturdy Surly rack mount:

9/9/14 SD card bites the dust.

My microSD card died and I felt this was an excellent excuse to get a 32 GB card and see how many hours the max size card could hold. I'll have to follow Fly6's instructions on how to re-format my knackered 16 GB SD card.