Friday, August 29, 2014

Form vs function in racks and panniers

Today was a half day at the office, we all left around lunch time like rats from a sinking ship before the holiday weekend. I hopped on the bike in search of the 5 new art-bike racks installed the other day Downtown.
I found all five!
I gave the first two here a thumbs down, it seems others do too as they aren't being used.

This one looks like you'd bump into it while walking down the sidewalk.

Not sure what this is, but the paint scrapes off easily. How can I get a u-lock around this?

A bridge! I voted for this one.



I headed over to Thick to collect my new Ortlieb panniers that were ordered for me. I love my new handmade cloth/scraps panniers for dry baseball game days. They're cute as all hell but not as functional as I would like. The Ortliebs are fantastic. Waterproof, deep, lots of pockets, straps for toting them around... I love these things. I wish they came in yellow though.

While I was there, I asked them to tweak my hoods, they hurt my hands. I couldn't grip a pen the day after PedalPGH's 60 mile ride.
I'm still waiting for my Brooks Flyer, they tell me it'll be another week. *whimper*
I ate at Amazing Cafe again while they worked on Fizz. They gave me a salad that had an incredible number of jalapenos and banana peppers. I like hot and fiery foods, but this made me beg for mercy.

On the way back, I had my first close call with a car door. Yaaa for disc brakes!

And I sighted Speedo Man again. He rides in a Speedo all summer long. I'm not complaining. It just looks uncomfortable.

My intentions in the evening were to ride with Critical Mass. I got as far as the bottom of the Chute to climb up to Oakland and my body went into mutiny mode. It had enough of the North Hills hills on PedalPGH, I still wasn't adapting to the new bike and my hands and nether regions were in no mood for another 15 miles.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Leap-frogging through Pedal Pittsburgh and Serenity 2.0

Today was Pedal Pittsburgh, a large, supported event bike tour of Pittsburgh.

This would be my first Pedal Pittsburgh and my first experience as a cyclist in a large scale ride. For the past 12 years, I've been on the Staff side. It would be strange to be She Who Must be Served.

There are 4 choices of routes.  I had trouble deciding which route to take, I would definitely have trouble with the 62 mile route, both in stamina and the hour at which one had to start. There was a 25 mile route with a 45 mile option. I'd have to tack on the 13 miles to get to and from the start line, so I would wind up doing 60+ miles anyway! There was also the 25 mile route, but that didn't include much territory that I hadn't already seen. I wanted to hit new places, like... Highland Park, Riverview Park, Frick Park. These were all places I'd not yet been, so I gritted my teeth and chose the 45 mile route.
It was hilly; really damned hilly.

Today's efforts earned me my first 30K steps badge at Fitbit! W00t!

Would you believe I wore wool? It's August and I'm wearing wool. I'd understood that wool is awesome to cycle in even in the summer, so I took the advice of seasoned cyclists and invested in some wool. They have nice summer sale on right now, so I got some winter base layers and some summer shortlseeves, a dress and a skirt. They're no warmer or cooler than the synthetics, but they cause you to slide around on the seat much less. They dry quickly too. Love the wool skirt. I'm somewhat anxious to wear the longsleeve wool dress and baselayers, but I don't want to rush the seasons.

At the start, I crossed paths with VB and Mrs Q. I got hung up at waiting for a train to pass through the South Side before we could continue, so I thought I'd never catch up and we wouldn't cross paths for the rest of the day, but I kept running into them in an accidental game of leap frog. I'd catch up with them, they'd ride ahead, I'd catch up and get ahead of them and they'd come up from behind and leave me in their dust again. I think it happened at least 4 times, funny. Naturally, I ran into Yale because: he's everywhere. I also played leap frog with Dan Y, he was at EVERY rest stop I stopped at except the first one in Riverview Park. Goes to show you how hard event staff work. Met Ms Garrison of BlackGirlsDoBike who was volunteering at a water stop and said hello to Mr Woods of Major Taylor again while he was running SAGs. He looked at Fizz and said "I see you've upgraded!". Waved at Mikhail while he barked from his marshalling station. Marko kindly drug Fizz out of the poor position I'd dropped her at the finish line where he was volunteering... she was just too heavy at the end of a long day to try and prop up. Volunteers are awesome.

Along the way, I got some nice shots of the new bike against some interesting scenery.

Flocker Street!

Needed to get the Trucker in front of the Serenity sign.

Another day in paradise

I'm hoping the top tube pad will be covered in patches one day.
I'm finding that the Trucker is prone to depositing grease on my right inside calf. I'd show you a picture, but I'd already scrubbed off the grease.

Imagine it looks something like this:

...But on a bruised, chubby, oddly-shaped Popeye calf sporting lots of red and blue spider veins.

I'm having a hell of a time scrubbing it off too. I spent quite some time scrubbing away and some marks just weren't coming off no matter how hard I rubbed. Then it dawned on me: that's not grease, those are bruises and spider veins. Soap ain't fixing those!

The ride was rough, but fun. Everyone was friendly... like this couple:

The day's mileage was 60.29. I hit 60 at the casino on my return to base. I wanted to get a shot of the 60.00 on the computer, but I overshot it. A record!

I noticed today that I have FI'Zi:k bar tape on FIZZ. Huh.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fitting Fizz

After work on Wednesday, I rode over to Thick for a fitting with Adam.

I took Blvd of the Allies through Downtown at rush hour to get to the Eliza Furnace Trail. I don't mind going through Downtown at rush hour, the traffic moves so slow that I'm not holding anyone up. However, this jagoff felt I wan't moving fast enough up to the corner of Smithfield and Allies that he tried to squeeze in my lane with me. I was up and out of the saddle trying to get better leverage up the hill and drifted a bit over to the right (my bad) giving him the impression that he could pass me. His front wheel brushed my pannier. If I didn't have an appointment, the police would have been involved. You can't see it in the video due to reflections on the windshield, but while he's stuck at he light behind me, he's taunting me with hand gestures. Really, nearly killing me wasn't enough? You have to belittle me too?

Van brushes my pannier:

I have one word for people like this: Karma

I might be getting better at handling these things and restraining my anger; normally this would have me so enraged that I would start shaking. 

So, I made it to the fitting without getting flattened.

Adam agreed that I was putting way too much pressure on my hands. I was having trouble getting my hands around the brake levers and riding in the drops was impossible, they were too far away. He brought out a smaller, more shallow set of dropbars, hoods and brake levers and I fell in love with them. I could grip the levers and even reach the drops.
It hadn't occurred to me that these drops, levers and hoods were designed for man-hands.
I have to come back the next evening to have them installed and re-wrapped.

A Brooks saddle is on order too. Joy!

Being arthritic and such, I thought I wasn't cut out to ride with a diamond (OMG, isn't that a MAN'S bike?) frame, but getting my leg over the top tube is pretty easy now. I also thought riding 'all bent over' on drop bars would be hard, but that too, just took a few miles to get accustomed to and my right ring and pinky fingers are getting some feeling back in them! Those fingers were perpetually numb riding Ruby's flatbars.

Yes, I think this is going to be a comfy ride after all the kinks are worked out. It'll fit fine, and Surly... stop calling me a fattie.

Fizz's aesthetics

I've been debating whether to have the fenders powder coated to match the frame. I like the chrome...

  • Would yellow fenders be too much yellow?
  • Do the hi-viz handlebars clash with the frame?
  • Do I need something else hi-viz to balance out the bright yellow handlebars?
The more important issues of comfort (fitting) and functionality (new panniers!) take precedence, but I keep running these questions through my head.
Adam mentioned to me that the Wrenches at Thick told him to try and dissuade me from powder coating the fenders, to leave the chrome alone. Funny.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm your Huckleberry bike messenger

Today, I was a bike messenger! Well, not an entire day, but for a little over an hour at least.

I offered to run some items from the office over to 18th and East Carson to one of our fundraisers. 9 miles in total on a warm, bright day. The security guard made me wait much longer than I needed to, but I wasn't complaining to wait in air-conditioning.

I'd hauled it to get there and back quickly. I broke the 15MPH speed limit on more than one occasion. My reasoning for doing so was that if I dawdled and took longer than an employee driving over there, that they'd never ask me to deliver anything by bike again. I really wanted this to be a semi-regular gig. I wanted my co-workers to have it in their heads that "We can send Speegs over on her bike instead of driving over there!" I see far too many co-workers taking trips into town where they pay for parking, mileage and gas just to drop things off just a few miles away. So wasteful. My services were free (minus my on-the-clock time) and they didn't have to tip.

The Trucker is perfectly suited to transport boxes too.

I'd made it back in time for my boooring budget meeting. Joy.

I'm doing so much better handling the bike, riding in the hoods is much less painful (in fact, today's ride was pain-free) as I adapt to a completely different riding position. The switchbacks are getting easier. I'm still looking forward to tomorrow's bike fitting with Adam where I can get my tuchus on a Brooks.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"You've got something stuck in your spokes"

Yesterday, I picked up Fizz.

Twas a glorious day. I rode her back to base and began the enjoyable task of strapping and bolting accessories and gadgets to her.
I'm getting used to drop bars and the not-yet-tailored-to-me geometry. I hope to iron that out with a fitting with Adam next week.

The next day I went for a ride to see the new racks the Pirates have installed at PNC Park. I was stopped by a man who tried tell me that I had something stuck in my spokes. I explained it was intentional as well as explain what Yehuda Moon was. He introduced himself as an avid cyclist who hasn't been riding much recently due to a car-on-bike incident that left him with lingering concussion issues. He fawned over the bike (I mean, squatting next to it and giving a good look-over and everything) and we talked bike for a good 10 minutes while I tweeted my thanks to the Pirates for the new racks.

I also made sure to get some good shots of her leaning on stuff with a nice scenic background.

Friday evening brought me to the monthly Flock ride. I was reluctant to ride in a group being still wobbly on the new bike. I stopped at Thick to see if they could insert some spacers in my stem to raise it to a more comfortable level as a stop-gap measure before my fitting. Yes, at 30 minutes before closing time on a Friday, they gleefully accommodated me. My hands (which were in a fair amount of pain) felt a bit better, but Adam didn't like the angle of my saddle and adjusted it. I suspected I wouldn't make it a mile or so before my bits and pieces got angry. I was right. I stopped in Panther Hollow (new bike lanes!) to re-adjust it.

Sue was there and she snapped this shot:

The ride ended short for some reason. Odd. So, Marko and Yale and I tried to escort Sue back to her car, but we got separated in the Dead End that Saint Mary's cemetery is. My hands are killing me but I wasn't sorry to have gone, I did fine in a group even though I felt not entirely comfortable with the steering and braking.

Getting used to 26" tires and my brakes being in a different place: it'll take some time.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bike Cemetery tour and Try-a-Bike

I started out early to hit the Bike Tour of Allegheny Cemetery hosted by BikePGH! and the Lawrenceville Historical Society.
We learned all about the folks buried there who've had a street in Pittsburgh named after them. Chislett, McKee, Craig, Neville, Negley, etc..

Then it was off to the Bud Harris Cycle Track to engage in the Try-A Bike Jamboree.

I had a chance to try a Brompton Foldie, a Surly Krampus fattie and Joanne rode me around as the cargo in a bakfiets or cargo bike. So much fun was had being the cargo. I was curious to hear if pedalling 138 pounds around in the cargo bike was cumbersome, but Joanne said it wasn't. Such great engineering there.

Photo Courtesy: Elizabeth of Thick Bikes

This fattie is meant for tall people, I hit pretty hard on the top bar. Ow.

Hung out all afternoon with friends goofing around on cool bikes. What's not to love about a day like this?
I wasn't adventurous enough for the recumbents, tall bikes or unis. I really wanted to try the tandem, but got distracted and it didn't pan out.
It was a hot day and I was getting dehydrated despite drinking lots of water.
Forgetting to use sunscreen again, I got burned a second day in a row. Burn on top of day-old sunburn sucks and I'm recuperating with lots of liquids and lotions.

Yale on the Clown Bike:
Photo Courtesy: Elizabeth of Thick Bikes

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pedals, popcorn and perilous passing

A nice, yet hot day in the city, I was able to get out for my first somewhat lengthy ride in a great while.

Stopped at Thick to pick out some pedals and a rear-view mirror for Fizz. I was told she's still disassembled in a box waiting for the new decals from Surly.
I'm sooooo close to having her!
I was pleased to no end when earlier in the week Elizabeth had asked me to judge Thick's Bike Beauty Pageant held for the Bike PGH! BikeFest party. Unfortunately, we had baseball tickets that night and I missed out not only on the party and pageant, but the honor of being a judge. Poo.
The good news is that VB's Trucker won best Antelope AND Best in Show. Congrats! I can't be accused of favoritism now. So much awesome there.

I pedaled off to the Waterfront, snacked and rested at the Pump House and turned around with no incidents from motorists. Wow.

Then I stopped in the Strip for some bulk popcorn at Marty's Market. Have I mentioned how much I love popcorn? Nom.

Headed back to base via Smallman, which is an alternate to the trail that's still under construction. I'm not a fan of Smallman Street. The lanes are indeterminate, very wide and give you just enough room for you and a close pass with a car. I take the lane where it gets narrow-ish but cars still like to pass even with oncoming traffic.
I had a driver try and do a u-turn right in front of me, then try and pass me with oncoming traffic.

Here's today's road-rage incident (my apologies for the coarse language):

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Where do little tricycles come from?

Today, I picked up the Trucker frame from Dan B and bungeed it to the back of Ruby to take it back to Thick to be built up with some extras too:

  • Surly rear rack
  • Velo Orange fenders (I'm hoping Dan can coat these to match the frame)
  • Schwalbe marathon plus tires
  • yellow bar tape
Dan watched me bungeeing the bikes together and saw me off with his signature line: "What could possibly go wrong?"

Here's the bike-on-bike action:

We made it! No incidents!

The whole spectacle reminded me of this:

I'm convinced I'm going to be blessed with one of these in 9 months:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fizz gets stripped, blasted and baked

I'd like to introduce you to Fizz. Fizz is my soon-to-be Disc Trucker. A Surly Long Haul Trucker with disc brakes. I picked up the frame on July 24th from Thick and handed her off to Dan B so he could powder coat her in a bright yellow instead of the dull green or dark maroon available from Surly. Dan worked on the frame while I vacationed in San Fransisco and he sent along photos of the progress for me. How awesome is Dan? The process is fascinating to me and here, I'll share with you:


Using chemical stripper to remove the bulk of the previous powdercoat. My Precious.

The sandblasting cabinet

Before any blasting...this is the fork after chemical stripping of the prior coat of powder.

Crown has been blasted, legs are mostly untouched.
Left leg has been blasted clean, right is mostly untouched.

Here's the fork after baking, and the frame about to be powdered.
Dropout Porn

More Porn: look at those purdy lug welds.

The powder: RAL 1018