Monday, September 23, 2013

Show Me a Sign, Please!

Off the bike for about 10 days due to the joys of home ownership (refinishing the deck).  It felt extremely good to ride again yesterday.

I met up with my friend at Point State Park where he was delivering two out of towners to begin their ride on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).  It was very generous of him to pick up and transport these two strangers from where they were staying (near the airport) into the city.  Especially on a day full of traffic fun with both Pirates and Steelers having home games.

We took them to The Point for the obligatory photos at the fountain and then rode along with them until there was no way for them to get lost.  That meant almost 20 miles out from The Point.  All the hoopla this past spring about finishing the last "gap in the GAP", yet there remains some significant, well... gaps.  The fact that there isn't any segregated, car-free trail or route from Point State Park to the Eliza Furnace Trail doesn't seem to get much press.  For those of us who ride around in the city regularly it doesn't seem like such a big deal to hop on the Blvd of the Allies and cut over to the trail.  It probably wouldn't be too much of a big deal to our visitors except for (1) the families with smaller children that aren't used to riding in traffic and (2) the fact that there's still a huge gap in the signage!  How does that happen?  We have a world class trail that's drawing visitors from foreign countries to pass through here and we can't spare the time/expense to give them useable signage?  As we were riding up the Blvd of the Allies, Jim turned to me and said "I still haven't seen any signs for the GAP".  About all I could say was that he hadn't missed any - that they really weren't there.  When he finally saw a sign for the Eliza Furnace Trail I had to say, "Yeah, but you wouldn't want to follow it."  "How come?"  "Because the signs stop before they lead you to the trail and you'd be sitting at an intersection trying to figure out which way to go.  Plus - it's not a good transition to the trail if you go that way."  I found this embarrassing.  They shouldn't have needed us to escort them through town just to keep them from starting their "fun" trip out totally lost and frustrated.

We crossed the Hot Metal Bridge and I explained a bit about how it got that name.  I also told them about how October often brought unusual decorations to the HMB when American Eagle Outfitters hangs bras out for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  We reached the end of the sidewalk and saw that they had put out their decorations a little bit early this year.  Instead of adorning the bridge or the metal trees alongside their building, this year they put the pink ribbon of bras in Tunnel Park.

A bit subdued compared to the past couple of years, yet still eye catching.

I hadn't paid a lot of attention to the folding bikes that this couple were using until we stopped for a break.  Then Jim showed me that he didn't have a front derailleur or handlebar shifter.  Instead, he taps a push button on the center of his crank arm with his foot to shift gears.  The chain doesn't move, and the change in gearing happens internally.

I didn't know this sort of gearing was an option.  Kind of cool.

After we established our visitors on the trail near Boston and reversed for home I noticed that my legs were unusually tired.  We had planned to stop for dinner, so I just kept pedaling, figuring the dinner break would take care of it.

Ever since we noticed Mitchell's Fish Market at the Waterfront was putting out cold water for the trail users, we've been wanting to stop there for a meal.  That sort of consideration for the bikers, joggers and walkers deserves a thank you, and what better way to do that than to give them a try.  (The link to their site wasn't working, so I've substituted their page on Trip Advisor above.)

The meal was delicious.  Excellent salmon, service and atmosphere.  We've already decided what we'll try the next time we stop there.

The Magical Powers of Chocolate Milk

Thinking I was well rested and fed I wasn't expecting my legs to start aching when we left the restaurant.  They haven't hurt like this since the very first time that I rode 40 miles (doubling the distance that I'd been able to do at that point) just over two years ago.  The front of my thighs were aching and burning and after a few miles I had to yell "uncle".    I was going to just slow my pace, but my much, much wiser friend convinced me to stop while he rode over to a convenience store and got me some chocolate milk.

I've been swearing by the power of chocolate milk for some time now.  Anytime my legs are the least bit sore and tired from exertion the miracle of chocolate milk has always seemed to help. I don't know why I didn't just order some with dinner - except that it didn't sound good with broiled salmon.  I won't make that mistake again.  I chugged down the bottle of chocolate milk and after a 10-15 minute wait the pain was gone.  I kid you not.  We rode back to the car and my legs felt fine.  Lesson learned.

I woke up this morning with no residual pain and did a shorter, but briskly paced ride.  "Radical Days" are in progress and today was the free admission day for Phipps Conservatory.  After recently spending a day at Longwood Gardens on the east side of the state, I wasn't really interested in looking at all the plants and flowers.  I was, however, interested in seeing the art glass that they've had on display for their summer flower show "Glass in the Gardens".  Obviously the displays inside Phipps aren't really bike related.  What is - and what surprised me - was the fact that this place that promotes itself as "one of America's Greenest Public Gardens"; has a LEED certified building; pushes and promotes sustainability, BUT HAS NO BIKE RACKS!!!  Really???  How disappointing.

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