Thursday, July 31, 2014

San Fransisco: Bay Area Bike Share (BABS)

 We'd spent a week in the San Fransisco area doing things like:
  • going to a few Pirates/Giants games at AT&T Park
  • a Oakland Athletics vs Kansas City Royals game at Coliseum
  • Wine country! Napa and Sonoma!

...and out of curiosity's sake, I needed to try their Bike Share program.

They only plunked stations in the flat areas of Downtown which made sense as these BABS bikes aren't designed to go up ANY hills, let alone the hills of San Fran!

I stopped at a station the day prior to explain the system to Hubby before I tortured him with the logistics of dropping me off at a station and then meeting me across town at another station.

Some BABS bikes get attention/maintenance near AT&T Park.
The next morning, Hubby dropped me off at Townsend and 7th and he drove to meet me at Market and 10th Streets about 1 mile away. I took a route using the wide bike lane on Market and 7th streets. I encountered a roundabout, which was interesting to go through on a bike. The goal was to keep the trip under the 30 minute limit before they started tacking extra fees onto my credit card. The one-day fee to use the system was nine bucks, kinda pricey for my short trip, but I was just doing this for giggles. I tried very hard to convince Hubby it was safe to travel via the BABS bikes, but he simply wasn't ready to venture into rush-hour traffic nor spend 9 dollars to travel 1 mile. This was yet another of my strange hobbies that he endured gracefully and patiently.

Things I noted about the native cyclists: few commuters use hi-viz. EVERYONE uses a u-lock. The motorists treat cyclists with respect. If you signal that you'd like to change lanes on your bike, the driver will let you in with the same courtesy extended to other motorists. Refreshing. I'm accustomed to the "FU, cyclist!" attitude.

I was helmets-less... I mean, I couldn't very well fit my giant Bern helmet into my suitcase.
Marko had suggested just buying a cheap helmet when we got in San Fran and leaving it in there, but I never got around to it. I figured I'd take my head injury chances with the 2 miles in the bike lanes of Downtown San Fransisco as they were probably safer than Pittsburgh! My only fear was getting in the way of a speeding hipster bike messenger.

I'm reminded of a Tony Bennett song...

The system is very easy to use. You're given a code to unlock a bike (within 5 minutes) after using the kiosk. I noted they place a $101 security deposit on your card. The replacement fee if the bike is never returned is $1200.
The bike itself is a TANK.

Naturally, I took photos along my short trip:
Started my journey at Adobe and Zynga's headquarters: Folsom and 7th


End trip: Market and 10th

Look at all that bike infra! WOW.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge

We rented bikes with the intention of riding over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. They gave us 7 speeds, which was adequate for the mostly flat trails along the bay.

This was Hubby's first time on a bike in 40 years, and I could tell. The first bike they gave me went almost flat a few yards out of the lot, I went back and they switched my bike out for one with air in the tires.

Fog is 100% humidity and it poofed up my hair. :(

Alcatraz in the background:
 Suicide phone:
Hubby threatend to use it if I pushed him too hard along the route.

We got a few "Go Pirates!" from passing pedestrians and cyclists. Much fun watching Hubby wobble around on his bike, he stayed behind me most of the way, letting me lead.
I had the Fly6 camera in the seatpost, so I'll be interested to see the video when I get back home.
We saw cormorants, turkey vultures, egrets and a dabbling duck.
10 miles total.

A bike specific traffic light. So cool.

One could also rent eliptical bikes.
Note one of the members of this group making sure his snot locker was cleaned out before they were under way.
Now I know why my grips felt sticky. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Critical Mass goes West and I get my QOM back.

Well attended... there was our leader Stu and Marko, Mikhail, KD, Buffalo2 and Yale. We did have another woman who I'd not yet met, but she dropped off not long after the group met me at the Carnegie Science Center. No issues other than impatient drivers on the McKees Rocks bridge.

This picture doesn't do the hill justice.

The Steuben Street hill was my most challenging climb so far. I looked up as we approached and feared I'd be walking the bike up that thing. I toughed it out, but my thighs are rather angry with me the next day. I had one short bout of muscle cramps a few hours afterwards. I'll live. I'm getting much better at hills.

HOW does Endomondo know I was cycling with Mikhail?!?

I bothered to update Strava and learned I've regained both my Queen of the Mountain titles on Polish Hill. So awesome. When I first lost my QOM to someone, I thought I'd never beat her time, but I have. Yes, I'm definitely getting better at hills.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things I like: the Buff®

I've fallen in love with the Buff ®

Initially, I'd purchased one to keep bugs out of my mouth, but found that when I used it as a foulard, I happily discovered that it became a barrier between the humidity in the air and my hair. Now, let me tell you about humidity and my hair: they don't get along. I spend a great deal of time and energy flat-ironing my hair, so I hate humidity.

Hey, weather forecast! You and your high dew point can cram it!

The Buff® is so many things all rolled into one: keeps your mouth bug-free, moisture out of one's hair, it's a balaklava, it's a hairband, it's a gaiter, etc... wow! What's not to love?
I can't wait to see how much I love this thing in the winter.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

City Cycling Class

The class is taught monthly by Dan Yablonsky, a BikePGH staff member and Certified League Cycling Instructor and Bruce Woods, LCI and president of theMajor Taylor Cycling Club. The class will teach skills from the League of American Bicyclists Traffic Skills 101 & 201handbooks. Confident City Cycling will give first-time city riders a chance to acquire on-road skills and experience under a knowledgeable, watchful eye, and allow experienced bikers to check that they are riding with city cycling’s best practices. The Confident City Cycling class will cover:
  • Advanced hazard avoidance maneuvers such as: Quick Stop, Rock Dodge, Instant turn
  • Safely crossing intersections
  • Recap on control drills: starting/stopping/scanning/shifting
  • Bike infrastructure: what is it, where is it, how to use it
  • Group riding basics
  • Managing topography: climbs & descents

I was hoping to take this class back in June, but I'd missed that one and nearly missed this one too due to the weather! It was raining pretty hard the entire morning, three of the 10 showed up and the Church across the street was kind enough to let us use a room as a dry alternative to having class outside.
I was able to fool another person into thinking I've been riding for years and years. Dan was shocked to hear I've only been riding on the streets for 14 months.
So, the class consisted of me, a lovely British woman (I could listen to her speak all day!) and her teenage son. I got a much better idea of how to wear my helmet, learned a few tips on changing flats and re-installing a wheel with disc brakes... something I'll need to know soon.

The tennis ball drills were very helpful but as well as I do with avoiding surprise road hazards, I could not for the life of me grasp the tennis ball 'rock-dodge' course. My classmates breezed through it, but Dan and Bruce made me do it over and over in remedial fashion. I mean, I see the tennis ball there, it's not going to jump out and surprise me! So, instinctively, I just avoided it well in advance. FAIL.

Here we are are, out on the roads concentrating intently (See Bicycle Face) on avoiding potholes. I'm so glad BikePGH! was able to get the City to produce some pothole obstacle courses for us.

I was finally able to use the bus rack demo contraption. My classmates were seasoned pros at using the bus racks, so I got plenty of pointers.

Funny thing was, I tried lifting my bike (with the panniers still on it) onto the rack. That wasn't going to happen, I think she's a good 55 pounds fully loaded.  Tools, water, snacks, gadgets, locks, etc... it all adds up. I started taking the panniers off and a passerby asked if I needed assistance getting the bike onto the rack. I explained that this was a rack designed to help people learn how to do it themselves. He didn't understand and insisted on lifting the bike for me.
By then, I was amused by the rampant chivalry thwarting my efforts to learn how to use the bus rack. "No,'s OK, I'll just take the bags off. I need to learn how this thing works."
Maybe he thought it was a new fangled rack to lock up one's bike? Funny.

A great experience and more time spent learning from experienced cyclists. Time well spent.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bananas for Flock

Thursday I rode back to Conflict Kitchen and finally got my shredded beef, beans rice and plantains. NOM. I rarely get to have Latino cuisine, hubby never takes us to those restaurants, his adventure into exotic food goes as far as Asian/Chinese (yawn) and Indian.
After I left, I got the closest buzz to date I've ever had the pleasure of encountering.

There's the front view and the rear view, they came within 10 inches of me. Jeez.

On Friday, I was all set to go to a Pirates game with hubby, I was certain we had tickets and it was on my calendar. I need a calendar, I'm not so good at remembering dates long term.
So, when I asked him what time we should meet after work, he said to me: "Um, we don't have tickets, do you have your days confused again?"
I was rather disappointed in myself for screwing up another scheduled event, I'm getting really bad with this memory stuff!

The good news was, I could go to Flock! I'd missed it the last 2 months and was delighted not to be missing 3 months in a row.

On the way there, hubby called me: "You were right, we do have tickets for tonight's game." I was sad we were wasting tickets, but glad I wasn't losing my mind.
Oh, wait... hubby's starting to lose his faculties! *Sigh* I guess I signed up for that marrying someone 14 years my senior.

I had a chance to enjoy MORE of Conflict Kitchen's deliciousness. I had a fish salad and more fried bananas while I chatted with Marko, PaulB and Ian.

Flock was awesome as usual. I got to see a few more parts of Pittsburgh I hadn't before. I was amazed at how torn up Penn Avenue was. It looks like they're doing an archaeological dig!

"Hey, Marko, that camera's recording us right now. How much ya wanna to bet this shows up on her blog?"

LOVE PaulB's hi-viz pink. It's not just for the ladies, fellas.

K and VB practice 'Bicycle Face'

These ladies suspected I had a camera on the bike. They weren't wrong.

I had to bail the ride early and head back so hubby would have to pick me up well after his bedtime. On the way there I encountered a child trying to steer his bike down Liberty Ave in Bloomfield carrying a bag and a half case of Pepsi and failing. I stopped and asked if he needed help, I mean, look kid, I have panniers! Don't kill yourself! But he declined my assistance, he said he wasn't very far from home.

Pepsi Kid:

A very good evening, seeing friends again. 19 miles.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

¡Dios mío! Mishaps and Mistress of Myself

This is video of me nearly getting slowly smooshed by a pickup truck at Station Square because the driver was ogling a woman on the sidewalk. I had to employ the brakes and verbal horn to get him to take his eyes off her and look where he's going.

Apparently, a blinky, a 50LUX headlamp and a bright orange/pink shirt are no match for the bewitching power that a nice pair of breasts has over certain drivers.

Gesticulating pedestrians

I knew it would happen one day: I would get whacked by the arm of a pedestrian that I was trying to pass who was engrossed in conversation and waving their arms about in semaphore fashion. Generally, I steer clear or hang back from these folks, they never hear a bell or an 'on your left' because their own conversations are the center of the universe and everyone and everything else pales. She jumped out in front of me and gave me a good whack on my forearm that smarted for about an hour, no bruises though. She apologized through her giggling and I just shook my head, rolled my eyes and went on my way.

Skirt Mishap

I was surprised to have my skirt get caught in the rear brakes having ridden many miles in skirts much longer than this one. A hole was created where the skirt, tire and brakes all had a disagreement.

Bloomers and cycling:  Cosmo Magazine was once relevant and poignant. 

I think the last time Cosmopolitan Magazine had a worthwhile article was 1895.

I found the last paragraph particularly fitting and significant to today's cyclist.

"The woman who dons her knicker­bockers and her gaiters and spins out into the open country, will find her mind opening to the wonders of sky and air, the beauties of the fields and streams; she will learn to take comfort in the world about her, will find her mind soothed and her spirits uplifted; she will forget troubles and anxieties, real or imaginary; she will become mistress of herself, as of her wheel, no longer a victim to hysterics, no longer seeking for unhealthy excitement, a rational, useful being restored to health and sanity." 

¡Ay Dios mío, plátanos!!

Conflict Kitchen recently switched the menu to Venezuelan cuisine. Oh. Mah. GawdPlantains!! There were fried plantains in nearly every dish on the menu!  I love a good fried banana. I went over to Oakland after work to get me some pabellon criollo.


Really? They close at 6? ¡Dios, estoy estúpido! Alright, I'm going to try again later in the week and not lollygag on the way there this time. I need a fried banana in a bad way now.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trendy things: Hi-Viz is cool with the kids

Made the rounds at the Waterfront and got more "Get on the bike trail!!" directions.

I'm noticing a trend amongst those who blurt out this type of advice or beep at me:

  • On their way to McDonald's.
  • On their way to GetGo for smokes.
  • In a pickup truck.
  • Looks like a Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo cast member.

*Shrug* Just observations.

Another trend I'm noticing is how popular hi-viz has become with the kids. From sneakers to clothing.

Since I fit into a youth large (essentially a women's medium), I decided to shop in the boys section of a department store today when I saw a large number of brightly colored wicking clothing. You'll often find me scouring the men's departments for smalls and the kids' racks for larges. It's all the same.
The good thing is, I don't feel quite so dorky blinding people with my clothing.

New unfinished mural spotted!