Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Hi-Viz Pink Cyclist Club: the vest

It was inevitable: the hi-viz pink reflective vest. I hate the orange, I'm at peace with the yellow, but I really wanted a pink one too.

I really love my Endura jacket, but the thing's BLACK. I prefer to more visible... much more visible. I like a nice hi-viz reflective vest over it.
Finnegan checks out the new duds

Reflective mode: ON! *SHA-POW!*
You might see that Endura added some reflective piping to the jacket. Can you see it? It's near my wrist. Look closer.
Yeah, that tiny bit of reflective piping doesn't meet my needs.

I can't wait to wear it about town.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coffeeneuring run-dahn n'at

What the heck is a 'run-dahn' you ask? Here in Pittsburgh they pronoun down as 'dahn' or 'daaahn' if you want to exaggerate the accent of the natives, sometimes called 'yinzers'. Pittsburgh was recently voted "Most Ugly Accent In America"
Accents are funny things. I love hearing them. I grew up in the Philly area and I'm told my Philly accent sometimes rears its head: usually in the form of 'wooder' or 'dawn'. I lost much of any accent I had when I moved to Pittsburgh 25 years ago.
Huh, it just dawned on me that I've spent more of my life here in Pittsburgh than Philly.

Anyhoo, enough about our funny accent; you're here for the breakdown, the rundown, the roundup, yes?

Yaaaa for Coffeeneuring! Here's all 7 trips' tweets, all over Pennsylvania, one was out of state too!

You'll notice my Precious insulated coffee mug makes an appearance in several of the shots. I nearly lost Precious on Sunday when the mug fell off the bike on Grant Street.  It's a testament to how durable this mug is. Love that mug.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bicycle Licenses, Coffeeneuring #6, TourTalk, PINK! and a Solar Eclipse

Our conference in State College wrapped up mid-afternoon and I had another opportunity to ride around town before heading back to Pittsburgh.
I decided to head back onto campus and get a Coffeeneuring trip in. Saint's Cafe was my destination.

My natural inclination is to check out the other bikes at racks. I noticed two of them had the same green sticker on them. Bicycle Licenses? Further investigation needed!

I stopped at the coffee shop and got a refill for my mug. Every table, stool and chair was occupied by a student and an Apple laptop. No seats for me!

While I was adulterating my coffee with half and half and sugar, a man walked up to me and asked "Are you touring?" YES! I look the part! WIN!
We spent a great deal of time talking about touring around PA and MO, mayor Peduto, trips I'd wanted to take, trips he suggested for me, RORO on Amtrak. Very nice conversation. Before we parted ways, he told me about a bike shop around the corner called FreezeThaw.

This would be a great place to ask about the bike licenses. An employee, Paul greeted me and complimented Fizz and answered my question about the licenses: they're 'strongly encouraged' (AKA: not legally required) by the University so they have some idea of who's locking up on campus. He also told me that my locking to a sign post was a no-no and that the City would cut my bike lock and haul the bike away for locking to a street sign. Yeesh. The racks nearby were full too!

I thanked him and asked him which way Park Ave was. He told me I could cut through campus to get there. Riding on the sidewalks there is very common; heck... even the bike shop told me to do it!
Weird.... riding on sidewalks is OK, but locking to a streetsign is verboten?

So, I rolled through campus, slowly.

Lots of foot traffic.

I encountered a cyclist in soooo much hi-viz pink: pink helmet, pink bike, pink water bottles, pink tires, pink jersey. My eyes! 

I gave him a "Love the pink!" shoutout and he acknowledged my greeting with a smile and a point... It must be the secret handshake variant for the Hi-Viz Pink Cyclist Club.

I loaded Fizz on the car and drove back to Pittsburgh. The sun was low on the horizon and I need the visor and sunglasses badly. But there was something odd about the sun... I kept staring at it....whoa! An eclipse!

Not my photo, but this is what it looked like.
I never get to see solar eclipses due to weather or some conflict, this was my first! Yes, I blinded myself for a while, but I got to see a solar eclipse!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"I'm bringing my bike."

The office was having it's annual 'Retreat'. This year it took place in State College. The retreat is a meeting of all the satellite office employees and the folks from the chapter we'd just merged with. This was the 3rd or 4th time they'd planned this elaborate and too expensive (in my humble opinion) overnight 2-day meeting. In years past, I'd weaseled out of bunking overnight in a hotel room with a co-worker. I'm not crazy about the thought of sharing living quarters with someone I'm not related to. Also, 'Teambuilding' exercises are involved in the plans. *shudder* All of these shenanigans are an introvert's nightmare. I was being ripped away from my routine, my bed, my spouse and dogs. I loathed all of it.
Commence the teeth-clenching!

Additionally, they wanted me to share a ride up there with the one employee who has max points on her driver's license for speeding, distracted driving (cellphone use and makeup application at 70MPH!) and various other moving violations! Not only is she a dangerous driver, but she's consistently late, for everything, which is a quality I cannot stand. Nope, sorry... I'll avoid being her passenger again.

The Late Tangent

< tangent > Why do I dislike tardiness? I can thank my father: he always said that the Navy instilled in him an insistence on organisation and an adherence to a schedule. He is always a few minutes early.
When I was a rebellious teenager and at the age where I didn't quite have my act together (some would argue I still don't, but...) I was in the habit of staying out past my curfew and forgetting my keys. I would come home late and find the door locked. I'd have to wake my parents up to let me in and he didn't take kindly to this disturbance from his daughter. At some point, he put his foot down and told me that if I was late (he locked the door at a certain time) and forgot my keys one more time that I would not be let back into the house... that I would have to sleep on the picnic table in the back yard. So, the next weekend, I found myself trying to get comfortable on the picnic table at 1AM and vowing never to be late for anything, or forget my keys...ever again.
They called that 'tough love' back then.
< /tangent >

So, to bring me some sanity and avoid riding with Ms. Tardy-Crappy Driver, I decided to take Fizz. "Sorry, gotta bring the bike with me, can't ride up with you!"

I based my decision on the fact that State College is very bike friendly. There were bike lanes on East Park Ave which would be my route from the hotel down to campus where all the action is. I scoped out GoogleMaps Streetview and from the looks of it, there were bike racks and bike lanes/sharrows everywhere.  I called the hotel and asked if I could bring Fizz into the room with me. They didn't bat an eyelash... "Of course!" they told me. Yes, the bike would be my respite from the torturous, maddening nonsense I was enduring at the hands of my employer.

I arrived and locked Fizz up to the rack provided outside the reception area.
In the smoking area. Yuck.

After our day-long meetings, it was 'free time' for a few hours before dinner time and a party was being hosted over on the other side of town. I biked there instead of using the hotel shuttle. I had plenty of extra time to putz about the town. I just followed my front wheel, there were so many bike lanes, parks and trails all over the campus and city to explore. Wow.

The only hurdle I had to jump was the highway interchanges between the hotel and the campus/town. It's a tad daunting to cross highway exits and entrances to get through the interchanges for most folks, but this wasn't a big deal to me. I also had to dodge a dead skunk there. I'm glad I didn't run the bike over a semi-freshly dead skunk. Phoo!

11 miles for the evening

I explored campus and whoa, lots of bikes being used!

Every rack on campus was so full! This one had a repair station.
I think they play some sport in this building.

Bike Way!

Bike lane!

Bike trail!
One of the many trails through campus/residential areas.

The ride back was in the dark. I employed all of my lights, blinkies and a reflective vest. I hauled it back down Park Ave at a nice clip. All the cars were cooperative and patient, most of them changed lanes fully to pass me. Impressive.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Balanced loads down a mountain= very good.

Yesterday was rough and I slept off my aches and weariness.
I woke up early at the Levi Deal and wondered: when was breakfast? I neglected to ask Jan, the innkeeper about breakfast... I had inquired about dinner having heard that Jan serves an excellent dinner... but alas, she had only made dinner for guests when the Morguen Toole was closed for the fire. I heard she had served polenta and I had polenta on my mind. I grew up having polenta on a regular basis. Polenta and sausage with (tomato) gravy is a Sicilian dish I loved as a child in a home where my mother of Irish heritage tried to learn to cook Italian dishes for my father of Sicilian descent. Her polenta and sausage was very good, the bragiola excellent too. The lasagna: not so good.
I dressed and looked out the window to see Jan working feverishly in the kitchen. Maybe soon? I also saw SNOW. Good lord, it was sleeting and snowing! Are you kidding me?

I went over and Jan had coffee ready. Yaaa! This would count for Coffeeneuring#5

The Mansion is simply gorgeous inside. I poked around while Jan made breakfast and I chatted with the other cyclists staying in the main house who were by now, coming downstairs from their rooms.
It turns out there were 2 other parties staying there and we were all heading down to Cumberland. There were 3 tables set up in the dining room, one had 4 settings, the other had two and there was a third table with one set of silverware. Gee, I wonder who that table's for? The couple from Tuscon invited me to their table so they wouldn't have to talk across the room to me. It turns out they were using Sara P's Bike the GAP services and their bagged lunch was already waiting for them. Gotta love that service!

Jan brought out a breakfast of freshly baked bran muffins, a vegetable egg quiche and (drumroll.).....polenta! It was fantastic. I scarfed down the eggs and polenta and wrapped up the bran muffin for lunch.

I loaded up Fizz and was underway, but the other cyclists got on the road before I did as they didn't have as much baggage. Yes, they poked fun at me for having so much stuff.

I loaded the third pannier on the top of the back rack instead of the front rack today and this was a vast improvement.

I played leap-frog with the other two parties most of the day, but in the end, I was the first one to reach Cumberland. I win!

Sometimes, I watch where I'm going. I'm looking out for things that might puncture a tire, etc...
In my head, you might hear this: "Rock, stick, hole, rock." Today it was "Rock, hole, rock, baby snapping turtle, rock..." Wait, what?
OMG! How cute!

"Lady, one day I'll grow up and have the ability to bite your fingers off. Now, put me down! I'm formidable!"

I replaced him over to the side of the trail he was heading in the hopes he wouldn't get crushed by a bike. I think I came within a millimeter of squishing him.

It was cold, but bright and glorious.

We all helped one another get pictures in scenic spots along the way. I made sure Fizz photobombed all their shots.

I remembered to bring pickles.

This is my "I made it!" pose
I remember this nursery rhyme. I had an ear worm for a while today!
Cumberland was reached quickly.

At the Fairfield Inn, nice amenity!

Damn kids! You're ruining my self-timer shot! Go away!
Much better.

Another 32 miles, but much more comfortable, more 'wheeee!' and much better weather.

I took lots of photos, you can view them at FLICKR

More of the GAP gaps are getting filled in!