Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Noob, a NewYorker and a New Climb

I must look like I know where I'm going
I went out for a morning ride Wednesday and encountered a young man new to commuting by bike on the North Shore. He asked me how to get over to First Ave. Ironically, I was going that way and offered to show him. He expected there to be a connector between Point State Park and the Mon Wharf, but I explained that was in the planning stages. He said he was reluctant to get out in traffic and rode the sidewalks mostly up the Boulevard after he got his bearings. *cringe*
I've never been on the Eliza Furnace Trail early in the morning, so it was interesting to see all the Oakland and South Side commuters coming in to town and observe the makeup of this group. Some had lots of bags and panniers, some were already dressed in work clothes.
On the EFT I saw BurghMan rollerblading. We gave each other hearty greetings. I've only seen him in his full suit and cape once. He was just wearing a BurghMan tee shirt today. I like the fact that he wears a rear-view mirror on his helmet and waves you past on his left. Most rollerbladers couldn't give a hoot about anyone trying to pass them and weave all over the trail with earbuds in.

Under the Smithfield Street Bridge, a man on a nice road bike stopped me and asked how he could get to the GAP, he explained with an accent that he was here on business from NewYawk and wanted to ride our trails while he had down time. I gave him his options and wished him well. Afterwards, I was kicking myself for not giving him my BikePGH map! Arrgh!

On my way back between the Science Center and the Casino, there were two idiots on motorized dirt bikes. I gave them a "WTF are you doing?!" gesture and I hope I don't see them again.

On my agenda for the day was to practice riding up 18th Street on the South Side after work. It was part of an upcoming Critical Mass ride that I was considering going on. I knew 18th Street was steep and looking at the altitude stats for that climb raised an eyebrow with me. I would definitely need to practice this climb.
Then, I saw a Facebook post by an experienced, strong rider that said "I was huffing and struggling up 18th Street". Jeez, what am I getting myself into?
I looked at the Strava info on the 18th Street climb vs a climb I'm used to: Polish Hill.

  • 18th Street is 1.1 miles of 6% grade
  • Polish Hill is .4 of a mile on a 7% grade.

I calculated this would take 16-17 minutes to climb going by my Polish Hill time.
Dang, this is going to be hard.

The weather was set to downpour on me. I rode over to the OTB cafe in my raincape and pondered the rain and if it was such a good idea to ride an unfamiliar hill in a thunderstorm or, at best, a hard rain. I noshed on seitan wings safely ensconced in the back of the bar and watched the baseball game and stalled while the storm blew over.

Encouraged by "Riders on the Storm" and a radar map with not so many red blobs on it, I set out to climb that hill.

I didn't feel a burn in my legs until I stopped to take a picture of the South Side Slopes mural:

My time was 14:41. It wasn't so bad a climb, actually. It just took forever...

I'm not in last place!

If it were warmer, I might not be saying that. The downhill was... WHEEEEE!

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