Friday, February 29, 2008

the jogger index.

For those who dont know, Lawrenceville is in a "renaissance." It is going from a white trash junkie haven with a gays and artists, to a full on yuppie haven. There are lofts that rent for what I assume something in New York should go for. There are neighborhood groups that ignore the junkie riff raff, but instead choose to complain about billboards and green spaces.
The crackerdom hit an apex a few weeks ago when a "bakery" opened a few blocks away.

I went undercover to check the place out. I had my Levi "skinny jeans" on, and a Patagonia jacket. The biggest mistake in my disguise was to not have a Mac laptop, instead bringing 6 month old issues of procycling with the covers ripped of to be sent back to the publisher. I still tried blending in as best as I could. I think the lack of laptop that screams "Im a young professional that left my loft while 'working from home' to go to the coffee shop to 'work from home'" may have looked conspicuous.

First reaction. There are no prices. No seriously, there was no price list that I could see. They sell espresso, coffee, quiche, cakes, muffins and T shirts. The T shirts had a price on them. Due to no price list, I CANNOT confirm rumors of a single cupcake costing $2.50, however I believe it to be true. I didnt want to eat anything because I am a neurotic cyclist, but I at least wanted to see a sign advertising cupcakes for 2.50. No luck.

While walking home I checked the JI (jogger index, a sure sign of yuppification) I counted 3 joggers on a 23 degree February day.(The JI equation has yet to be worked out, I need some help Dr. Stubna. It will factor in the weather, amount of joggers, type of clothing that they are wearing and time of day. Time of day is crucial, because if somebody is exercising while 'working from home' the JI skyrockets) This is in a 7 block walk on snow covered sidewalks.

This whole post was somewhat tongue in cheek and trying to be funny. However, people are worried/scared about gentrification on our area, yet open things that are privy to ONLY new neighborhood residents. The other local coffee shop seems to do a good job of accommodating new and old residents, but the scenario here seems to almost be a "keep out" sign.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

charity race!

So Mayhew has a funny story where a guy came into his shop and claims to have WON the ms - 150. Its a charity ride, and nobody wins. Its weird that this guy won it.
So what about a charity race? Well if you consider the fact that most bike races on the road dont even make enough money to pay the promoter, more or less give money to a charity, it becomes hard to do.(Was it Mr. Hebe who took money out of his pocket FOR A CHARITY after not breaking even on his costs at the race?)

A race promoter needs a lot of people to make this work. How do you get a lot of people on bikes? You make it safe, weatherproof, and competitive. How about an indoor exercise bike race? Hellish? Yes. There are two divisions, spin bikes and airdynes. I have done the airdyne race twice, and swore I would never do it again. The airdynes are lower cadence more power, and big mongo guys do it with their arms. Of course Docsnydes was there killing it for like the fifth straight year and won again. No thanks.

Our team for the spin bikes consisted of Me, Hodos, (spin instructors at the Downtown Athletic Club and 10 regular class attendees. The race was six hours, and we each did 30 minute straight blocks, rather than the 15 minute blocks that other teams did.

Despite Dr. Stubna's claim that I only wipe sweat off of exercise bikes, I would like to point out that with the help of my excellent teaching, our team with a mean age of 47 beat the local collegiate cycling team! Yes, it was the local cycling team, with matching kits and the whole deal!

The team's average cadence was somewhere around 155 - 160, I would guess. It was hard to get accurate cadence counts with our legs spinning so fast. The top end was somewhere around 190 - 210 for a half an hour straight! It was like riding a bike without a chain.

Like any charity event, there was TONS of swag. Every time I walked past the GNC booth, I took at least two sample powerbars. Yeah baby.

The tops of my feet were bruised, chaffed and swollen the next day. When it came down to either sitting around, getting a taxi, or riding with the dudes, I took the easy route and did a 5 hour 90 mile day. Who wants to sit around a 55 degree house or sit in a taxi all day?

Thursday, February 21, 2008
Amy asked me to post this. Some modeling that I have been doing. Ok its really just pictures of me wearing the shirts that she makes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Neurotic or prepared?

The feed zone is covered for the summer.

Hippie bike rider dominates monopoly. Guest writer.

Dear Howard Hanna Real Estate,
I just want to say that I CRUSHED Pittsburgh's real estate mogul at Monopoly last night. If you would like me to come in during my spare time and teach a few classes, maybe I can help out this "real estate slump" that our nation seems to be facing.

Also got this email from Babik regarding the new Knight rider. Burning questions have been answered without putting in the couch time. I only included the last line because it was in the email, not because Im one of those guys posting SICK NUMBERS on my blog. The ride was actually 5:30

Soundtrack of the week: Sick of it All - we stand alone ep



So I was watching knight rider Sunday eve and it came to me.. The chicks name from original was Bonnie.

Besides this, let me tell you the difference between the original series back in the 80’s and this new one.

1. The new series must be sponsored by FORD. 90% of the vehicles in the show were new Fords.
2. The new series has a main character that is a lesbian. Never would have got away with that in the 80’s
3. Commercials every 9 min. Which most of the time were FORD commercials. Turner’s right, the show would be half as long without.
4. Kit makes jokes..
5. The new mike knight sleeps with two chicks at a time, not just one like the original MK

I could keep going but I’ll just say I think it was a bust. Guess I’ll keep livin in the past as far as this show goes.

Nice riding this weekend!


Oh the normalized power was 248 for our 5 hour ride. 8 watts shy of our PB but with the extra hour of effort I’ll give it to us.

Friday, February 15, 2008

how many valentines did yellow cab ruin?

I have no idea how yellow cab figures out how many cars to put on the road. My impression is that they have an endless supply of "junk" cars in the lot and they are actually short on drivers. Either way, at 2:30 am on a Friday night, there is obviously going to be a shortage, because otherwise, there would be way too many every other time of every other day.

Not enough cabs on Friday night at 2:30 am, or Valentines day at 730pm. To begin with, there was a six car pileup on the parkway west at 5 o'clock. That will ruin the commute home. The Birmingham bridge dropped 8 inches last week and is shut down. The blvd of the allies bridge is just a skeleton, leaving no way from the parkway into Oakland. That coupled with a lot of the side streets still being covered in snow led to A HUGE delay.

It was sweet for me as a driver, because everywhere I went there was a fare waiting. Aspinwall at 9pm, sure there is somebody waiting at the VA.
"Been waiting long?" "Yeah three and a half hours..."
"Wow... I just took the call eight minutes ago.. sorry."
Good thing the tip is prewritten into the voucher by the social worker at the hospital.

So tons of couples that had a nice evening planned for their special day got the shaft by mother nature, Pittsburgh's crumbling infrastructure, and of course Yellow Cab Co.

I must say the topper of it all was when I pulled into the beautiful waterfront at 1:30 am. I picked a guy up at a restaurant in the southside. By his smell, he obviously worked in the kitchen. He was headed to the movie theater for what I can only guess is his second job, being that it was closed when we got there. What a work ethic. Anyway, when I pull up, there are 5-10 well dressed college aged kids standing out from of the closed movie theater. They hop in as the other man gets out.
"Thank you so much, we have been waiting in the cold for an hour..."
"Wow, Im sorry..."
"The movie theater closed an hour ago and the manager kicked us out..."

I told him that I can take four people, and he said "Im going to shadyside if anybody is going that way.." And another couple got in the cab, leaving 5 or so more people out in the cold. In this situation... apparently the old timers will run the meter and charge them both the cost of the meter. So, drop off one is 12 bucks, you get their 12, then you drive to drop off two and it is 15 (3 more dollars for a mile or so) and you then get their 15. Im not super into price gouging, so I just let them split it when they asked how it worked.

The other 5 people, I have no idea what happened with them. There are no buses running at this hour, cabs know that this places is mostly shut down at this hour, and their fares were on the screen, it's just that nobody was taking them.

So this is yellow's business model: Provide mediocre enough service that a few people rely on you, but dont be constant enough to create an actual demand due to the fact that if there was a demand, you would have to fix the junk cars in the lot and provide more operators and services.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blogs: the good, the bad, the ugly.

I will admit that I am a blog junkie. I use google reader to subscribe to RSS feeds and get immediate updates. I am subscribed to so many cyclist's blogs that I think I could sit in for them on a few writings and get away with it. Cyclists have a few categories of blogs.

"-I enjoy riding blog": I would hope that my blog fits in here when I post about riding. Just happy to be outside cruising around with friends. Eternal optimist. Anybody posting about group rides, just stoked to be there enjoying life. Geronimo does a good job at it. Hebe is king of hitting fresh snow. Anybody who is enjoying this "training" thing is a good read in my book.

"-Im the only one training blog": Doing 2x20's on the trainer sucks, as does riding in the 20 degree weather. Why post about it? Every bike racer is "training" right now, not just these dudes. However these dudes are logging screen shots as if the readers of blogger all want to be their personal coaches. Seriously if all you have going on in your life is your wattage at threshold, maybe you shouldnt really have a blog? You might be better off riding one hour less per week, sitting on a park bench observing children and and writing about that. The stories that you see will be a million times more interesting than an amateur cyclist's watts to kilo.
Bottom line, if you think that you are the only one training, 90% of the field from your first race of the year is also training. The only people who are going to think you "are crazy for riding in this weather" are the cars passing you. If you ask for their opinions on other things; they probably voted for Bush, they think you are a homosexual, they exercise 1 hour per month and they think a salad from McDonalds is health food. Good job bud.

"-Here is a picture of me and my new stuff blog:" Wow a company gives you free stuff and you are going to take a picture of yourself using it and post it on blogger so I can see it? Not only are you crazy enough to ride in this snow, but you are doing it on your new free stuff and you want me to see it? CRAZYYYY! Mayhew and I were joking about it yesterday, nobody wants to see your snot covered face in 20 degree snow flurries. I bet there are actually some nice views along your ride, stop looking at your SRM for 30 seconds and actually enjoy it. I would much rather see a photo of a funny street sign, a red tailed hawk, or a blown over trailer park than your face at the same angle with a slightly different blurry backdrop each day. Please stop posting these images you megalomaniac. (Wow I just spelled that without a red line under it.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why is that guy standing in the road?

Was the last thing I said out loud before I saw it.

I am driving two drunken suburban twenty somethings home after a good night in the taxi. I dont know if my name got on a list at yellow cab, but I was given a nice taxis two nights in a row. They both had cd players and got like 17mpg (yes this is a good thing). I was enjoying myself as I merged off of 279 south onto Banksville.

"Why is that guy in the road?!" I said as I started to slow down to merge over.

At that second, the Cadillac fancyville car that was in the left lane accelerated and moved around the truck in front of him, into the right lane.

I dont know how much to describe what we saw, but I heard it and felt it as well. We pulled over and the drunken kids that on first impression I had zero respect for were total heros. They checked his breathing and talked to the man. I drove up to the Cadillac with my doors still open, to make sure that he didnt go anywhere, assuming that he was as drunk as everybody else leaving the southside at 1:30 am.

The kids said that the man was only making animal noises. After I walked back to them, I realized that they hadnt moved the guy into the parking lot, but it was actually how far he flew after being hit.

Im not sure if he was destitute, or drunk, or wanted to kill himself, but Im pretty sure the man is no longer with us today. And to put this into perspective, Amy works with kids who have seen family members shot dead in front of them. There are people coming home from Iraq or who have been to Vietnam that have seen things that make this seem so trival and tame.

We are all lucky to be alive. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tying together: Pittsburgh, Primaries, Delegates, Politics, and CYCLING!

Here we go. I was unable to find a list of the 2008 Pennsylvania Delegates, however I did find the 04 list. It was pretty cool to look at the amazing local people involved.

The list is available here.

On this list are such amazing people as the "Hon. Twanda Carlisle, Pittsburgh" and "Valerie Roberts, Pittsburgh."

Well anybody who has watched or listened to local new recently knows that the Honorable Ms. Carlisle plead no contest and was sentencedthis week to 1-2 years in jail for stealing 43,000 dollars in taxpayer money. She bought a 4400 dollar fur coat.
She was a delegate in 04.

Miss Roberts case for being a crappy person is more subjective. Miss Roberts was jaywalking a few years ago downtown, when she was "Valerie Mcdonald-Roberts." She was a city council person. Around the same time, the police tried enforcing anit-jaywalking measures downtown and were met with fierce resistance. Anyway, a cyclist took it upon himself to give her a scare and nearly hit her. This was something that I often enjoyed while cruising around downtown. Looking back on it, it was a crappy thing to do, but I would see if I could rub a jaywalker with my messenger bag while I passed them by. My rationale was that if I were a driver not paying attention (say texting or talking on the phone), I would have hit this jaywalker.

Anyway Mcdonald-Roberts proposed some sweet measures. This is from an article that has a sweet picture of my brother before he sold out to the man.

"A few years ago, a messenger's run-in with then-Pittsburgh City Council member Valerie McDonald Roberts prompted a proposal to tighten restrictions on messengers and require them to take extra identification measures, such as installing six-foot flags on their bikes."

Anyway, needless to say that the measure failed. I forget what all was included with it, but we would have had to have flags on our bikes, special lisences plates, pay for ID's and some other stuff. The best was when she didnt know how to answer how she knew it was a messenger and not just somebody riding around downtown with a messenger bag on.
Also a delegate in 04.
I cannot find who the PA super delegates were on 04.

A whole region in a bad mood.

Well Saturday was a long ride. We headed out from the Coffee Tree in Mt Lebo where the mtlccc had left from hours earlier.

Who else got 3 free issues of Bicycling magazine? The Mt Lebo Cycling and Caffeine club got a shout out in it. Im glad that I get 3 free issues, because every other issue is the same, so I will read the first one, read the second one, then realize while reading the third that it is actually the same as the first.
"Rock hard abs in 72 seconds while learning to spring like Lance" by Chris Carmichael.

Anyway, the ride was hard and fast and we are so cool cause we had on team kits blah blah. But the people were just so irritable. Maybe it was that as armchair coaches, their beloved Steelers were not playing the next day. Maybe the lack of sunlight this winter is finally starting to wear on people. Scratch that one. Where we ride, people dont leave their houses, except in cars to drive places to buy stuff. I am sure that the neon lights are still on at wal mart.

Stopped at the T intersection of 519 and route 50, for a 45 second discussion on which way to go to get 4.5 hours of riding in, a man turning left onto 519 informed us that there is a parking lot where we nearby where we should stand. Fine, we were taking up some space on the road and not moving, there were no cars around and we weren't holding anybody up. In fact, we were CYCLISTS STOPPED AT A STOP SIGN! This was possibly the first time in history cyclists were yelled out for obeying the law.
"ok thanks" honest first response
"maybe you shouldnt stand in the middle of a highway.."
"umm if you think this is a highway you must live on a dirt road..."
The man's conversation not only prolonged our stopping time at the intersection, but also proved that we could sit there another minute without holding up any traffic, because there were no cars around, because we are in the middle of nowhere.

At least two instances of people going the other direction honking at us, getting our attention, then flipping us off. What is that about?

I remember when I was in highschool and my friends used to drive to the The Projects to buy drugs. They would always take the one black kid that we knew to go with them. He was some sort of an ambassador to the neighborhood or something.

Obviously, five dudes riding country roads in spandex is going to offer a reaction, but come on. Yes, Jernigan is dressed so Euro that he would be mistaken for the actual Euro amongst us, which might warrant a honk. Or maybe the slightly less Euro looking, but actually from Europe guy, who if conversation were had in this war against immigration, might warrant a honk. But the middle finger too?

Of the five of us; one was actually FROM THE SOUTH; one was from Greene County and is an avid hunter/fisherman. We have ambassadors to your region!
Does Primal wear make an orange camouflage cycling kit? Should we install gun/carcass racks on our bikes while wearing these kits to make it seem as if we are just going hunting and have all lost our driving licenses due to DUI's?

Anyway, the queen of them all was 20 miles out when we passed a turn and climbed out of Oakdale, a car waiting at the stop sign pulled out and M-F'ed us while they tore tire. They were at least 50 yards behind us, but still felt the need to do this.

Dont let the bastards get you down. I still had fun. Thanks for the ride Jeremy, Mike, Chris, and Steve.

Cheer up Western PA.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

For the Legend.

Two different people, two different situations, same reason that they were in the Taxi Friday night: Its the first of the month.

Woman one gets into the taxi and tells me that she is going "off of Perry Street." I picked her up in front of the movie theater atThe Waterfront. The Waterfront used to be a Steel Mill, but is now an "open air shopping experience." Friday night at 9 o'clock, is a good time to sit in front of a the movies, tempting college kids to not take the bus (free) back, but instead pay me ($15, the place is far) to drive them home. This is how the woman got in.
"off of perry street" could mean a million things and I beat around the bush for a few minutes while we started driving off.
"on the north side?"
"yeah off of federal, up perry"
"oh ok, are we going to cross the bridge?"
"yeah the Charles bridge, then we will go left...."
"Northview Heights?"
"yeah to the highrise."

Northview heights is arguably the worst housing project in Pittsburgh. It made the news recently when the "Northview Crips" shot a 13 year old girl. The Kraynick's team used to do rides that went past the entrance, and Greg would say "dont flat here," as we picked up the pace to get away from it. Yes there is an "entrance," one way in, one way out. The entire poject is on top of a mountain, surrounded by chain link fences and has a gate with a policeman manning the booth to get in. If you are from Pittsburgh and wondering where this gem is, look right while driving up 279 at the Hazlette st exit. There is a cliff that is strewn with garbage and debris with houses on top. There you go.

Before realizing that it is indeed the first of the month, I let instinct take over.

"can you pay me up front? like 30 bucks? I've had bad luck up there"

That was a lie. I have only ever been there on vouchers from the hospitals, which are always covered. I just want to get burned on a 25+ dollar fare. Following my brother's advice "If people act offended, they don't have money."

"the last taxi didnt ask me for that"
"ok, but I am and this is my taxi and that is how I am going to do it. I am sorry if it is insulting, but cab drivers dont pick people up in my neighborhood either"

(true until recently.... it is done by zones and my neighborhood is in a zone that has some awful people)

"it was less than 30 to come here"
"how much was it"
"twenty something"
"ok exactly, give me 30 and Ill give you the change based on what the meter says"
"you should only charge me what the meter says"
"that is what I will charge you, but I need to hold some money to make sure that I will get that amount, and I will give you the difference when we get there."
"how are you going to charge me more than the meter"
... ok she must not know difference, she hopefully knows subtract?
"we will subtract what you owe me from what you give me and I will give you change. You only have to pay me what is on the meter"
"That isnt right though... 30 dollars ..."

At this point we are on the Highlevel bridge about a mile from where I picked her up. I feel kind of guilty because I think that on the other side, where it is dark and there is nothing around, and Im going to kick this woman out of my cab.

She hands me two 20 dollar bills, and just says "30 dollars is too much, this just aint right..."

I spent the next 5 minutes of the drive trying to explain to this woman how it worked and that she is not getting ripped off. I then realized that she has no clue, cant do math, and might actually be mentally deficient. Its quiet for the remainder of the ride.

The cops at the gate wave me in without even showing them my drivers license! We had to drive across the entire compound to get to her high rise. Driving through was one of the most surreal miles of my life. A night in February, 32 degrees with a light sleet/snow and there were at least a hundred people standing about in the streets. They stared at me as if it were the only entertainment they had had in hours. So weird.

From what I gathered, this woman spent 50 dollars in cab rides to see a 10 dollar movie. Im thinking that she probably ate along the way too. It looks as if she spent anywhere from 20 - 40 percent of her monthly check in a night out. No wonder she still thought that she got a bad deal when I gave her the change.

I see some charity math tutoring for Dr. Stubna.

Woman 2 with child get into the taxi. I grabbed them at the grocery store and they had a few bags. I could be ticketed and fined for driving a child not in a car seat that weighs under 80 pounds. This girl was on the cusp, but whatever. We start rolling. They are headed to a different set of projects on another side of town. Its a shorter fare and the woman offered to pay up front. If somebody offers to pay up front, I usually dont take it... they have the money.

I was a bit zoned out, but after a few minutes I realized that they were playing "eye spy." The mom couldnt have been much older than me. The mom asked "excuse me sir... excuse me, but what color is your shirt?" It was too dark in the taxi for them to tell, and apparently they were debating it. Each taxi has a lamp that I can reach. It is freaking bright, maybe 200 watts. I always warn people "bright light" before I turn it on, because it can startle people.
The rest of the ride was spent with the girl guessing colors in the dark and me flipping on the switch to verify if she was right or not.
When we got there, the Mom paid me and thanked me for riding her. It was nice and kind of sad at the same time.