Category Archives: Uncategorized

Looping

Again with the country loop including the trail.  This time I really think I have it dialed in.  Still Krumkill then Fontgrove, but at the T, turn left to stay on Fontgrove rather than right for Upper Fontgrove.  This part of Fontgrove terminates at New Scotland just before the Toll Gate, eliminating a number of blocks on busy New Scotland.  About two blocks to the trail.  Then one more tweak.  After the trail, instead of staying on Pearl to Madison, climb 2nd Avenue then continue on Whitehall.  The climb up 2nd Avenue is brutal, but this version of the route has much lighter traffic and avoids the cobbles at each intersection along Pearl.  Those cobbles!  So pretty but you’d do well to have a widish tire and well snugged bolts.

By the way, why does Google Maps write in words Second Avenue but all the other Avenues are denoted by numerals, i.e. 1st Avenue, 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue?  My Jimapco map of Albany writes them all with numerals.  Jimapco–maps to swear by… not at.

I started at 5:30 am and enjoyed foggy fields in twilight, a beautiful sunrise, eight deer, eight rabbits, one dog and a very safe pass by a CDTA bus along 2nd Avenue.  Nineteen delightful miles.  Done at 6:50, so 14 mph, just as my guru recommends.

Lacey was just gearing up to walk Frida, so I joined in.  One of the reasons I pedaled briskly–I’d rather not miss a walk with my two best friends.  IMG_4550

Found four vintage sports mags on the garbage station at the pond.  Too wet to handle, but the covers!FullSizeRender

Ate a non-standard breakfast at home.  IMG_4552

Rice, collards, black beans, peanut curry sauce and some pepper walnut sauce from Nora’s Lebanese Grocery.  Sometimes there aren’t enough non breakfast meals in the week to use up our leftovers, so I have to skip cereal for breakfast and instead chip away at the abundance of delicious food we make and acquire.

That’s enough for one day, but it is only 9:40 am.  The rest will be bonus fun.  I can’t wait.

Enjoy your day.

Shucks

I’ve been writing this blog for eight years!  More than eight hundred posts!  In those eight years, those 800 posts, until recently I’d received only one negative comment.  I can’t remember where it is, or what it said, but it’s there.  Not sure how to search for it.  No matter.  It didn’t bother me.  I sometimes think I am doing pretty well for the internet, but it probably has as much to do with low readership as it does with my being “on market.”

But my previous post got two less than supportive comments.  They’ve stuck with me.  It’s a rare occurrence and I’m thin skinned.  I care about what others think and I take criticism seriously.

So two comments.  The first was mean and the second was polite but not what I needed after the mean comment.  Time to learn from them.  Let’s go!

Not sure I can learn much from the first comment.  The punch line of the first was that I am down on Albany.  That hurt.  I’ve lived here ten years and I am a tireless booster of our fair city.  As a kid I thought negativity was cool.  That it was evidence of intelligence.  But then I learned from a friend that it is just as cool to be positive (and it sometimes takes as much brainpower to find the good).  Ever since, I’ve tried hard to be positive.  For instance, check out my Yelp reviews!  Can’t get more positive.  I’ve been to bummer places, but I simply pass on reviewing them.  I just review the good ones.  The bad ones?  They are businesses run by people who’ve poured their hearts and wallets into bringing good things to Albany.  Didn’t click with me, but I’m not going to erect a road block in their path to success.  Readers should also be able to find a lot of Albany boosterism on this blog.  Even the post that garnered the bummer comment started with a report of an excellent country loop I’ve enjoyed four times in the last week.  I tweet and instagram nice things too.  This guy just doesn’t know me.

And sometimes a little tough love is in order.  I have a few things I can’t ignore.  I am critical of close passes and street sensors that don’t see bikes.  Now I also want us to think carefully about our newest bike facilities.  How should pedalers interact with them?  There are surely other things I’ve blogged about where rainbows weren’t shooting out of my keyboard, but I’d have to read all my posts to remember.  Oh.  Sometimes I point out that restaurants don’t offer vegan chow.  Sorry!  I have my issues!

But none of these are meant to be digs on Albany and none are things that should bother thick-skinned New Yorkers.  If I thought my posts would make people sad, I wouldn’t write them!  They are just things I’ve thought a lot about and hope I have something unique to say.  Someone may read a post and as a result ride more safely and live to tell about it.  Perhaps a restaurant will offer more vegan chow and then I can go there.  But that’s about it.  Otherwise, rainbows.

Why can’t I let go of close passes and less than perfect street architecture?  It might help to know a little more about me.

I’m a lawyer who wished he’d been a forest ranger, bicycle mechanic or an architect.  If I’d known it was a thing, I might have also wanted to be a city planner.  But I am a lawyer, so I am pretty good at reading statutes.

I also enjoy precision and safety.  My favorite classes in junior high were World of Construction and Architectural Drafting.  Precision stuff.  At my childhood home I built things out of wood in a swell shed my parents had built for me.  It had a cement foundation and a window for ventilation.  I loved that shed.  I wanted to live in it (I was Bubbles before Trailer Park Boys existed).  In that shed, I built tables, chairs and a workbench.  Loved measuring twice, cutting once.  I also wrenched on bicycles in there.  Even slept in it on occasion.  Almost as good as sleeping in a tent.

Not sure where the safety thing originated.  Maybe because I had aunts and uncles in California who fought forest fires.  Maybe Mr. Dover from World of Construction helped, too.  Can you imagine being responsible for a room full of kids with power tools?  Takes a stern fellow and that he was.  I could also owe thanks to my neighbor’s dad who was a carpenter and a volunteer fire fighter.  Anyway, one Christmas I asked for a super deluxe first aid kit for back packing.  I still have it.  The day I got it, I showed it to to my neighbor and sort of friend and he laughed at me.  I guess most kids aren’t into first aid.   He wasn’t, anyway.  It hurt, but I was undeterred.  I’d surely have the last laugh when I could patch myself up (but thankfully I’ve never needed a thing from it).  Be prepared!  But better to not crash in the first place!

Safety and bicycles go together, sure enough.  After way too many years atop Big Wheels, I learned how to pedal a bicycle. No looking back!  First bike was a Schwinn Bantam with a bolt on top tube to make it clear I was a boy.  Then an Ashtabula BMX.  Heavy steel thing.  Made payments with paper route money on a Redline Proline with Araya rims, Bullseye hubs and a Tuff Neck stem.  I’d pedal all over the neighborhood and go to backwoods BMX trails to try to jump.  It was a race worthy machine but I never raced.  Didn’t want to.  I’ve never been competitive.

I graduated to a ten-speed and pedaled all over town.  In the summer, I’d wait until middle of the night cool made it pleasant to pedal downtown and pedal laps around the one ways.  Not a soul on the streets but me.  I was never happier.

College came and I commuted by bicycle.  Two years in Lincoln and two in Evanston.  Studded snow tires on a Cannondale mountain bike.  Durning law school in New York, I’d pedal a Faggin to Central Park and take a few laps.  As a young lawyer in Omaha I’d ride a Bridgestone XO-1 on rail trails outside of Omaha.

Motorbikes got under my skin for a spell.  Ended up with three, two of which had carburetors so they needed to be used regularly.  Biking took a back seat.  I gained a bit of weight.  Uh oh, but damned it was fun.

Then 9/11.  It was immediately clear that was about oil, so I walked to work the next day and every day thereafter for a couple of years.  It took 45 minutes each way.  I loved it.  But eventually I remembered bikes.  The 45 minute walking commute could be completed in under 15 minutes.  Yea bikes!  Good to have you back in my life!  But now I was on the mean streets of Omaha.  They weren’t used to seeing pedalers in town.

My focus on safety kept me alive all those years on two wheels.  My early thoughts on bike safety were simple.  I knew no one saw me so I took it upon myself to ride in a way so that people couldn’t hit me.  It was all on me.  Same with motorbikes, but I also took motorcycle safety classes a couple of times and read a bunch on the internet.  My views became more nuanced.

Despite all that, I’ve been hit once on a bicycle (left hook, Albany, NY) and once on a motorcycle (right hook, Columbus, NE).  Wakes a person up.  And my sister was killed when her truck collided with a semi a couple of years back (Lancaster, CA).   Also wakes a person up.  I don’t leave the house without thinking about what I need to do to make sure I come home to my wife and dog.  Not once.

No more motorbiking for me at the moment.  It isn’t about risk.  I feel more vulnerable on a bicycle.  It’s just the environment and my waistline that keep me pedaling.  To eliminate the temptation, I sold two motorbikes before I moved here and the last one a year or so after we arrived.  All bicycles now (but I’ll never stop dreaming about getting another motorbike).

Early on in my time in Albany, I took a biking in traffic class from Claire Nolan (League of American Bicyclists certified instructor).  I had previously read about vehicular cycling on John Forester’s site and was happy to have the League class support everything I liked about John’s approach to riding.  In a nutshell, ride a bike like you drive a car.  Sometimes you need to “take the lane” and then give it back.  It’s more complicated, but suffice it say it works well for me.  If you haven’t, you should take a League certified bicycle safety class.  Never too old to learn!  I should take a refresher.

So here’s this blog.  The one with bummer comments.   I wanted this blog to be about biking, but often I just write about cooking, gardening and my dog.  I still bike most every day, but mostly just to get groceries or to get to the community garden or a movie.  Short rides of low intensity.  Not much to write about, then, but I still want to write about bikes.  I sometimes I write about repair, but truth be told I have 30 bikes all of which are perfectly sorted, so there isn’t much material there.  It’s hard to wear out a bike, or even a tire, when I rotate among so many bikes and typically pedal only 20 miles a week.  I’m also ridiculously easy on my gear.  I have big respect for machines (bikes, motorbikes, cars, blenders, typewriters), the resources it takes to make them and the people who dedicate their lives to making them appear.  Respect.

But to get back to it.  I pedal in the city.  So hardly a day goes by without some close call.  I am a lawyer who loves precision and safety.  I think my safety is my responsibility.  So something happens on the road and I think about what I can do to avoid similar circumstances in the future.  I read laws, accident reports, traffic studies, engineering papers, I measure stuff, I draw diagrams and then I advocate for change.  I write about it here, I contact officials, I attend public meetings.  I tried being a part of the Albany Bicycle Coalition (joined the first month after I arrived), but it didn’t work  They are awesome, but I am not a team player.  Only child.  I work alone.

So this blog sits here, parading as a bicycle blog, and the only biking material that gets me excited of late involves bicycle safety.  Seems it can be a bummer for some, but I am wired to worry and then do something about it.  So this blog is at times heavy.  I sometimes find faults with things others think are awesome.  Please forgive me.

What should I do?  I thought about not writing about safety, but that doesn’t feel right.  Just yesterday I remarked to a guy at the library that it was hot, and all we can do is walk slowly.  He looked me in the eyes and said “Don’t let anyone tell you how fast to walk.  Walk at your own speed.”  Damn.  That message came at the right time.  He’s right.  I’m going to walk at my own speed.  Pedal at my own speed (10-14 mph if those school radar things are right).  Pedal where I want in a lane (in the middle when necessary for my safety and then back right asap). Write what I want to write (like this).  I could also not approve comments.  But I’d know they were there.  Just have to thicken my skin a bit.

I should take a break from it, but will I?  I got an email inviting me to enjoy our new six foot wide bicycle lanes.  Six feet?  Must be right, but has anyone measured them?  They don’t feel like six feet, and I have a tape measure…  To be continued.

More Bike Please!

Today I pedaled the route I promoted here, but with a mod.  The proposed route suggested joining the Helberberg Hudson Trail at Upper Font Grove Road to avoid New Scotland.  This morning I was on my skinny tired 2xJoe Rivendell Custom so I braved New Scotland to avoid paint damage from riding on the gravel trail.  The time on New Scotland is brief.  At the Toll Gate Restaurant, take the right leg of the Y (Kenwood).  In moments you’ll see the trail on your left.  This route is 19 miles without gravel and minimal time in heavy traffic.

Loop with Trail No Gravel 08.22.16

Traffic safety anyone?  They’ve got placeholder markings on Madison for the traffic calming project with bike lanes.  I pedaled in the placeholder bike lane heading west.  It was nearly the same place I would have biked before the street was re-striped.  I passed one parked car.  It seemed properly close to the curb but was still snuggled up to the right stripe for the bike lane, so I started thinking about the new bike lanes and the risks of dooring (driver or left side passenger opens door into path of passing cyclist).

I’ve ridden with so many experienced riders who snuggle right up to parked cars.  They hopefully look into each car for signs of exiting occupants so they can move left if needed.  Me?  I’ve never trusted myself to see every potential exiting occupant so I instead stay roughly four feet away from all parked cars.  I remember seeing a PSA in San Fran reminding cyclists to leave four feet.

With the bike lanes on Madison, it won’t be easy or even possible to leave four feet.  I haven’t measured the lanes, but it looks like leaving four feet between me and the parked cars will leave me very near the left hand stripe for the bike lane.  So now I have to pick between staying right and accept dooring risk and staying left and accept mirroring risk (getting hit by a protruding mirror common on trucks and busses).  That, or pedal dead center in the lane and hope doors that are opened into my path are stubby (no Cadillac Eldorado coupe sized doors, please).

NY State law requires use of the bike lane when it is provided, so leaving the lane to pedal in the motor lane would be a citable offense (not that I’d expect an Albany officer to issue any such citation).

§ 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes and bicycle or in-line skate paths. (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.

The exceptions in the code above are essential for cyclists where there is no bike lane, but I am not certain they apply where bike lanes are provided.  You can certainly leave a bike lane to turn left, but a natural reading of the code above does not suggest that all of the exceptions apply when a bike lane is present.  Should be, but I can’t be sure. Cyclists may instead have to rely on the term “usable bike lane.”  I know cyclists can leave a bike lane if it is obstructed (parked car, snow, pothole, glass), but I don’t think you could successfully argue that cyclists have the right to leave a bike lane to avoid a potential dooring threat (as opposed to an actual open door) unless the cyclist argues the lane was not “usable.”  Tough go, that’d be, but there it is.

So my concern, expressed previously, is that Madison Avenue is now less friendly for me to bike on than it was before the bicycle facilities were added.  When there were four lanes, I’d take one and motorists could easily and quickly pass in the other.  I had an entire motor width lane.  Plenty of room to avoid all dooring risks, even from Eldorados, and stay well right of all passing mirrors.  Worked great.  With the narrow bike lane, I will be forced to thread a very narrow needle between doors and mirrors.  I can do it safely, but what about the new cyclists that the lanes are supposed to serve?  What about when the newly surfaced road starts sprouting potholes and, more immediately, broken bottles and double parked cars?

New cyclists will certainly enjoy the bike lanes, but will they know to think about dooring?   They’ll want to be away from moving traffic, so they’ll snuggle up to the parked cars.  The door will open at the last minute and they’ll swerve into the motor lane.

Other laws are at play here.  So few motorists know about the three foot safe passing law that I’m almost tired of mentioning it.  It feels hopeless.  But it becomes more hopeless still where bike lanes are present.  Too many motorists are going to continue to speed and will hold their lane as they pass cyclists in bike lanes without any hints of moving left to open a safe buffer.  If the cyclist moves left in a bike lane to avoid a pot hole or a door, passing motorists are going to assume their obligation to share safely is met so long as they keep their right tires out of the bike lane.  They won’t think about their mirrors or the three foot safety zone extending from the cyclists left elbow even when the cyclist is in a bike lane.  It’s going to irk me to be close passed by cars when they could so easily and legally move left into the center turning lane or slow and wait to pass until the center turning lane is open.  I can see it already.  Every time they add something that is supposed to make me safer, my expectations for relaxed cycling go up, only to be dashed.

Punchline is, even with facilities we need loads of education, compliance and enforcement.  Cyclists and motorists need to know the laws and risks and behave accordingly.  When they don’t, police need to issue citations.  Unfortunately, education is tough and it isn’t sexy.  Compliance is a pipe dream (raise your hand if you go the speed limit and come to complete stops at all stop signs).  And our police don’t have the resources or the will to enforce all the laws needed to ensure safe road sharing.

Officials and bicycle advocates too often put their energy and our money into facilities and hope the facilities alone will solve the problem of safe road sharing.  Sadly, unless the facilities are perfectly designed and located on every road a cyclist might want to travel, they won’t stop traffic fatalities.  You still need education, compliance and enforcement.  Who (other than me, here, on this mostly hidden from view forum) is going to do the hard work of educating road users?  Who is going to start following the laws that already exist and that are sufficient to keep us all safe if we only bothered to consistently follow them?  Who is going to ticket road users when they don’t follow the rules?

I’ll probably still use Western to bike between my home to downtown.  It’s only two lanes, but motorists travel slower and accept brief delays as I take the lane until it is safe to give it back.  I may on occasion try Madison.  Maybe more as the traffic calming is extended the full length.

Maybe it will slow traffic.  That’d be good as I will never let you forget this stat.  Hit a human with your car at 40 mph and 90% die.  Do so going 30 and only 50% die.  At 20, only 10% die.

I’m 100% behind slow motoring in cities.  I am one of the motorists that goes 30 mph here.  It angers many motorists.  I don’t care one whit.  Sometimes I go slower than 30.  Ya.  I’m that guy.  But too many pedestrians cross without looking.   I will not assume I will always see them in time to stop and speeding only increases stopping distance.  I want the likelihood of killing someone to be as low as possible.  Or zero.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I wish I could drive 20, and I do when I see a red light up ahead, but it’s hard to let go of the angry faces hollering and spitting all over the inside of their rolled up windows as they pass me (on a  four lane road–how hard was that?).  We’ve got to value human life over rapid motoring.  Seriously.

Sigh.

That’s enough.

Bye for now.

Yes! Bike!

No moss on my pedaling plans!  I woke at 5:20 and was pedaling at 5:40.  I altered the route proposed yesterday so that I’d start the Helderberg Hudson trail at the Voorheesville trailhead.  Compared to yesterday’s route, this route trades three miles of country road for three miles of gravel trail.  So less possible interactions with the motored set.  Unless you like the rough stuff, though, I am not sure this route is an improvement.  The three miles of country road avoided are mostly motor free while the three miles of gravel trail added are rough.  Not terrible, but four miles in all were plenty for me.Loop with Trail 08.20.16

Here’s the turn by turn.  Left on Berkshire Boulevard from the Buckingham Pond parking lot.  Left on Russell Road. Right onto Krumkill.  Left at the T (306).  Stay right at the Y (remain on 306) and you’ll soon see the Voorheesville trailhead on your left (near Grove Street).  Now enjoy 4 miles of gravel trail.  Only an experienced pedaler should try this part on a skinny tired road bike.  I was happy to have my 1.5″ tires.  Just after you go through the backyard of the Toll Gate Restaurant, you’ll go over a bridge surfaced with large gravel.  I pedaled through it but it isn’t pleasant.  Now delight in the paved portion of the trail.  Four miles of smooth sailing.   At the Albany end of the trail, you’re facing South Pearl Street.  Hang a right on South Pearl Street.  Then left on Madison for a slog of a climb up from sea level.  Left on Colonial to get back to Buckingham Pond.  Just over 20 miles.

Details?  Photos?  Sure!

Early starters get the best views.  This is on Krumkill.

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Unless I am mistaken, this is 306 headed into Voorheesville.  Helderberg mountains in the distance.

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Now on the unpaved portion of the trail.

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Here’s that tempting but off limits picnic shelter next to the Slingerlands Fire Department.  I called yesterday to ask about public use.  The answering machine was full so I couldn’t leave a message.  I sent an email.  No reply yet.

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Take a detour to GR Auto, a terrific independent garage for all your car repair needs.  It’s on Adams street just a bagel throw off the trail in Delmar.  I haven’t had work done there, but will soon.  My friend introduced me to George, the G in GR.  In a former life George was a Russian machinist.  Now we’re lucky to have him here.  I think he’s been here many decades.  Last year, George, my friend and I road tripped to Jersey to look at a vintage Peugeot, so we’ve had some quality time to get to know each other.  He’s good people.  Imagine putting your bike on your car, driving to George’s to leave your car for work and them pedaling home on the trail.  Slick.

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Here is the only sign I noticed for the trail.  It’s not visible from a street, so I am not sure what purpose it serves.  I didn’t see signs at the Voorheesville or Albany trailheads.  You just need go slow and keep your eyes peeled.  Or maybe they’re there and I missed them.  But that in itself says something.  Why build it and then not advertise it?

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Here is a magic sunrise half way through the paved trail portion of my journey.

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Love the bridges.

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Falling rock zone means you are up close and personal with New York granite.  Awe inspiring.

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Keep your eyes open for a vintage Jaguar awaiting restoration.  It  is near the Albany trailhead.

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Next up, Historic Cherry Hill on your left as you pedal down South Pearl Street.  We’ve toured it and will again.  Haunted tour, of course, if we play our cards right.

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Who wants to check out the Port Tavern?  It hasn’t been Yelped, but it has a Facebook Page.

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My favorite building along South Pearl.  The iron details are worth a stop and gawk.

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Washington Park Lake House always surprises me with its beauty.  Today was no exception.

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Today was one of the last times I’ll see this part of Madison as a four laner.  After Tuesday, it will be two motoring lanes, a turning lane in the middle, all flanked by two bike lanes.  Motorists and cyclists alike–calm down now, you hear?  Lots of peds here during the school year so play nice.

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Home sweet home.  My trusty Atlantis once again gobbled up the miles.  An hour and forty minutes door to door.  Even with lots of stops for picture taking, I averaged 12 miles per hour.  Better than I’d expected.  Twenty years ago my boss told me that averaging 14 miles an hour isn’t easy.  Ever since, 14 mph is as fast as I’ve felt the need to go.

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Having just pedaled them, I’ll repeat that the hills on Krumkill and coming up Madison are real.  Mount a geared wheel.  Maybe today you have young knees and can comfortably push your way up, but you’ll need knee replacements sooner if you ask too much of your original equipment.  Knees wear on every ride.  Be gentle on them.

Gotta go.  Our vet is out on a run and she’s stopping by to peek into Frida’s mouth.  Fingers crossed.

Later!

Maybe a Bike

Today a friend and I drove to the Albany trailhead for a pedal on the new to me Helderberg Hudson rail trail.  We pedaled the four paved miles to Slingerlands and then came back.  What a terrific trail!  Huge thanks to Lacey for caring for Frida while I enjoyed a moment out in the world.  IMG_4434

Headed toward Delmar, the Normans Kill (kill is Dutch for stream) is on your left for a time.  At points it is quite close.  Here, we were treated to a modest waterfall scene.  Come after a rain for a real treat, I’d think.  IMG_4431

A little further on the trail crosses over the Normans Kill, so it is then on your right, until a short while later the trail and the stream part ways.  At this point, you are about half way through the paved portion.  IMG_4433

At the end of the paved portion, there is a lovely covered picnic area with at least a dozen picnic tables on your right.  Curb your enthusiasm.  A sign advises that it is not for public use without permission from the Slingerland’s Fire Department.  Maybe you just roll up to the adjacent fire house and they give you permission?  We didn’t try.  Sad, as there was not a soul using it.  An underutilized picnic area presumably paid for with public dollars should be available to all.  Maybe the mayors can sort this out.  We pedaled back to the Albany parking lot where we ate a light lunch of watermelon and falafel.

It was a terrific outing that I can’t recommend highly enough.  I’ll be back, but I’ll do it without a car.  I’ve already set the route.  I know the roads and it should work well.  A little hilly and long (for me) at 18.5 miles, but it combines five distinct riding environments (burbs, country, rock trail, paved trail and city) so the miles should go by quickly.

Country, Trail, Urban Loop

Start at Buckingham Pond.  West on Berkshire Boulevard.  Left on Russell Road. Right onto Krumkill.  Some tough hills on Krumkill.   If you lack bionic knees, you will enjoy a geared bicycle.  Very scenic.  Left on Font Grove Road and continue to the T, where you can get on the unpaved but now open portion of the Helderberg Hudson Trail.  Skilled riders should do fine on skinny tires but 1.5 inchers would be more confidence inspiring.  Continue on the trail and you’ll soon find yourself on the paved portion.  Flat, car-free and scenic here, so enjoy.  Please slow when you come across other users, though.  The trail is so smooth and level you’ll be tempted to scorch, but remember that a fast pedaler is a real danger on a narrow trail.  Keep it fun for everyone, kay?  At the Albany end of the trail, you’ll be facing South Pearl.  Hang a right.  Pop up 2nd Avenue for a beer and tostones at Punta Cana (you won’t be sorry) or continue on South Pearl.  Then left on Madison for a slog of a climb out of sea level.  Right on Lark for a sandwich at Berben & Wolff or simply stay on Madison for Ben & Jerry’s almond milk ice cream.  Sated, continue on Madison.  After Tuesday, on upper Madison, you’ll enjoy three blocks of traffic calming and a bike lane. Next thing you know, you are home.  I am home, anyway.

I’m itching to try it.  I can’t be the first person to map out this loop.  Have you done it or something close?  Do share.  IMG_4429

Frida’s enjoying cooler weather, three squares a day and lots of love.  Still walking about 1.2 miles each morning.  The antibiotics seem to have helped her mouth.  Can’t hurt that we also feed her only soft food.  Her pudding has evolved to include only kibble, water and ground flax seed (rice omitted for no good reason), whizzed in the food processor.  To that we add meat and pumpkin and give the bowl 20 seconds in the microwave.  She gobbles it up.  Knocking on wood as I write this, though.  Life with this old dog feels like a cross country road trip in a 60 year old car.  Every mile under power is a miracle and we are forever holding our breath for the next ruptured hose.

That’s enough.  Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Maladie du Jour

Why French?  iTranslate is patiently waiting to be queried.  Frida 08.10.16

Frida’s mouth seems good.  She’s eating soft food and isn’t exhibiting pain.  I’ve started making a pudding by grinding in the food processor her kibble, brown rice and water.  To that I add canned meat, salmon just now, and give the bowl a quick warm in the microwave.  She loves it.  I didn’t want to put her kibble in our food processor, but I had to remind myself that omnivores grind meat in appliances, wash them well and then use them to process fruits, veg and beans.  Gross, but Frida.

Unfortunately, now we’re concerned that Frida’s pain pills and antibiotics have constipated the poor girl.  This is serious business.  As of this morning, we’ve stopped the pain pills, added probiotics and a little pumpkin to her food and reached out to her vet.  It is important to keep her walking so this morning, despite a healthy rainfall, we managed to get her around our block (0.75 miles).  We’re humbly requesting that entreaties for the appearance of Frida poop be directed to your favorite gods, goddesses and/or non-theistic wish granters.  Thank you in advance.

[Update!  Your entreaties are strong!  It stopped raining and I’ve made a second, finer, scan of the grass and found three poops!  Maybe this scare was unfounded!]

[Argh!  Second Update!  Your entreaties are too strong!   Please dial back!  She just passed a very loose stool!  There is such a thing as too much winning!  Trying to laugh through it all.  Someone is getting her pain pills back!]

In other sunless news, the City has again closed my request to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor at the end of our block.  Their response is nearly a mirror image of their prior–I’ve been invited to push the button for the crosswalk.  With all due respect, duh.  What do you think I’ve been doing for two years?  I’ve reopened the case.  I’ll stop reopening the case when they assure me they’ve tried to increase the sensitivity of the existing sensor.  It isn’t too much to ask.  They’d be there in a heartbeat if a sensor didn’t see cars.

It’s eye opening to experience second-class citizen treatment because I sometimes ride a bicycle.  A maladjusted traffic light sensor and close passes don’t put me in the same universe as those who really struggle, but I’ve been given a tiny taste of what it’s like to be ignored.  But I am a fan of humility so thanks, City, for forcing on me a little extra.

It isn’t all bad here just now.  In fact, all other aspects of our life are more or less pleasant.  It’s just that today I need to air the bummers.  Thanks for reading.  I promise I’ll share something uplifting soon.  Until then, know that we are thinking of you and wishing we could hop on our bicycles and pedal to your neighborhood to share a tea or beer.  Cheers, okay?

More

I’m continuing with the topic of detecting bicycles at demand-actuated traffic signals.  You’ll recall that the City rep with whom I was corresponding suggested the metallic composition of the bicycle matters.  I was thinking that as well, but had in mind the composition of the frame, and always thought steel would be the easiest to detect.  I wonder if that’s what the City rep had in mind.  Then I read this.  Turns out the bicycle’s rims matter more than the frame.  Makes sense as the rims are nearest to the sensors.  Also turns out that aluminum rims are easier to detect than steel.  Would have guessed the opposite.  The design of the sensing loops matters as much as anything.  We should insist on “diagonal quadrupole loops” which were developed for better detection of narrow vehicles (i.e. bicycles and motorcycles).  We also want detectors with an inductance change sensitivity level that goes down to 0.0025% to reliably detect bicycles.  If the City cares about it’s pledge to provide complete streets, they would do well to read this article.  I’ve posted a link on See Click Fix.  Wish me us luck!

Bye!