flooding

Where is the trail? I just got this picture from my husband who rode in mid-day today. It wasn’t too bad at all this morning around 7:30am, but it looks like it is going to be quite a bike ride home this afternoon. Leave extra time…

Flooded Lincoln Drive Trail on 12/21/2012

Flooded Lincoln Drive Trail on 12/21/2012

 

Biker Beware: Porn filmed along the river?

I was riding home Tuesday afternoon when I saw something odd along the trail between Falls Bridge and Ridge Avenue. First, I noticed the two men with cameras. Then, I noticed the girl (woman?). It was a chilly afternoon, but she was dressed in a small tank top, netted stockings (were they purposefully torn at her butt cheeks?) and shorts that resembled underwear. She was rollerblading, badly I must say (or was she just pretending to not know how?). I put 2 and 2 together and realized they were filming a movie of some sort, but whether it was comedy or porn, I couldn’t say. As I got closer the woman began to skate away, unabashedly gesticulating her butt as she awkwardly lunged forward, bobbing her butt up and down, apparently unaware of the added person in her audience. The “film crew”, however, did notice me, and their sheepish grins belied the nature of the film. This was no comedy…So, biker beware, there is some funky stuff that goes on along the Schuylkill. And if you’re into that sort of thing and find yourself watching one of these questionable “movies” that involves a woman skating along the river and then to the left you see another (fully clothed) woman ride by with a butterfly helmet on, that’s me, chuckling a little as I ride by.

Hurricane Sandy, New Bridge…

It has been so long since I posted that I almost feel silly writing, but here it goes…

Hurricane Sandy luckily didn’t do too much damage to the trail. I’ve been riding in from Manayunk  the last two days, and from there the Schuylkill River Trail is completely clear, save for some small branches and leaves and the detour that has been up under what I believe is the Strawberry Mansion bridge (hopefully fixing the deteriorating trail there, a place I know well, having slipped there in an ice storm once—ouch!). Ken reports that there are 2 downed trees blocking the Lincoln Drive trail. (The first — just past the Henry Ave. overpass — can be climbed over. The second — just past the 100-steps — can be ducked under.) I went running on Forbidden Drive Trail on Tuesday, and there were two downed trees completely blocking the trail between Kitchens and Valley Green Inn, but they were fairly easy to get around.

The other good news on the trail is that the bridge connecting the Schuylkill River Trail to the Fitler Square neighborhood is now complete! Hooray!

New Arrows!

More than 20 or so new arrow signs have gone in along the Schuylkill River Trail, and it looked like they were still in the process of painting more this morning!

New arrows painted on the trail near East Falls

I hope this helps with the summer trail traffic. Of course, some pedestrians will likely think the arrows only apply to bicycles and ignore them, still walking on the left side of the trail with their headphones on and dogs on leashes stretching across the trail…sigh…I suppose I often ignore signs too, like those signs on every bridge telling cyclists to walk their bikes. I agree, we should. When there is traffic, I do. But when there is one pedestrian on the bridge, I will admit I usually just slow down and take my cleats out of my pedals so I can get off my bicycle quickly if necessary .There is my confession for the day. I too ignore trail safety signs. But really, should I get off my bike at every bridge? That seems excessive, no?

The garden, bicycle-cars on the trail, a new Jamis, the Dirty Kanza, and a butterfly helmet…

Can I really call this a blog if I don’t actually do much web logging? Ah well…So what’s new on the commute? Well first of all, I was wonderfully wrong about the new garden in front of the museum (aka, the Christmas tree farm). Once all those green plants bloomed their vibrant flowers, it turned into a beautiful array of color and dimension.

Gorgeous:

If you haven’t encountered them yet, beware of the bicycle-cars for rent on the Schuylkill River Trail. They look like fun for the family, and probably are, but not for the bicycle commuter trying to safely pass! Geeze! I’m not sure if two can even pass each other on the trail, they are so giant. Luckily, I haven’t seen too many out and about during rush hour. I will not be surprised, however, when I hear of or see a crash involving these things. Be careful! You can’t tell from the picture very well, but these things have three rows of seats!

My husband finally got a new bike, hooray! (But now I really won’t be able to keep up…) I’ve been pushing him to do so, but I swear I didn’t hire the guy who crept into our backyard and stole his old bike a few weeks ago. Anyway, he’s now the proud owner of a Jamis as well! His is the Jamis Bosanova and so pretty:

In family biking news elsewhere, my brother finished the the Dirty Kanza 200 two weekends ago (yep, he flew to Kansas to ride 200 miles in the dirt!), placing 14th in his age group. Congratulations, Andrew!

As for me, I still have the same bicycle and still only ride a maximum of 20 miles a day, and usually only on nicely paved trails, but I did buy a new helmet: a white Bern Berkeley with a summer visor, and I love it. It is so comfortable! I was so excited when I bought it…until I came home, and my husband told me I looked like a storm trooper from Star Wars:

White Bern Helmet

And well, he was sort of right…So with a few wall art stickers, I fixed that (and was able to decorate my daughter’s room with the left overs!). And they’re removable so I can have a new look for every season!  (My Dirty Kanza brother would not approve, but I like it!)

Spruced up helmet!

Goslings, Penn Relays, Stunt-Bike Riders, and a Tree Farm at the Museum?

If you haven’t noticed, the goslings have hatched. The first one I spotted was on Monday in the Wissahickon, and I spotted them along the Schuylkill by Wednesday. Beware: mama and papa geese get very angry if you bike near them. Expect a lot of hissing. The little cutie pies are heavily guarded, but if separated from their gaggle, they can be hard to spot, and even if you do see them and slow down, Mama and Papa Goose will likely yell at you anyway. As a protective mama myself, I feel their pain. Do be careful.

Goslings along the Schuylkill Trail, first week of May, 2012

Aside from the occasional swerve and stop to avoid the newly hatched goslings, the ride to work and back has been pretty straightforward these days with the trail along Lincoln Drive re-opened, but Penn Relays did put a bit of a twist on the commute into work at the end of the week. On my way in yesterday I was stopped no less than 5 times in Penn Park as I made my way in and was asked to show my ID. Interestingly, I mistakenly showed my husband’s ID once and the security guard didn’t blink an eye (hmmmmmm). Anyway, as a lifetime runner I do love Penn Relays, but geesh do they stop up traffic (automobile and pedestrian).

While the runners from Penn Relays will be packing their bags after tomorrow, watch out for the stunt bike kids who have been spotted again this spring underneath the bridge near the museum. Apparently they find jumping down into the middle of the crowded path quite fun sport, but I imagine the one who got an earful from my husband this week won’t be back too soon…

On a mostly unrelated (but almost as annoying) note, has anyone else noticed the recent plantings in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art northwest entrance? Is it just me, or (at least from a distance) do these planting resemble a tree farm? I realize they are not actually a tree farm, just some sort of rectangular planting of evergreen hedges with something green in the middle (I haven’t taken the time to actually stop and take a closer look). Nonetheless, would anyone with more landscape architectural sense/background care to explain what they were thinking? One of my favorite sections of my bike commute is along the museum, and they have done amazing things just in the last few years with the landscaping, but the tree farm is definitely not the highlight.

The trail is open, smashed windows and angry, abusive pedestrians!

As of today, the trail between Rittenhousetown and Forbidden Drive is now open! Construction looks complete, and the crew did a nice job of returning the trail to a better condition than before the construction. Hooray! I am so glad to have my regular commute back without the extra biking up Kitchen’s or walking along the shoulder of Lincoln Drive. The new creek wall is a bit of an eyesore–I was oddly fond of the crumbly old wall–but I’ll admit I wouldn’t have been so fond had the wall caved in and Lincoln Drive had been taken out so I’ll take it.

In other news, be careful parking in the lots along Kelly Drive. My husband and I occasionally park at the one just north of Falls Bridge when we’ve got tight work + kid pick-up days, but yesterday we were broken into between the hours of 9am – 5pm, and from the array of glass in the lot, I think this happens a lot. The thief completely smashed our back window and made out with a hospital-issued diaper bag, valued around $2, and a few diapers and half-eaten snacks (probably not what (s)he was after). We got a $470 repair. Sigh…

And lastly, a vent. The other day I was riding home along the precarious stretch of Chestnut St., from 34th to the river, when I came to a stop at the red light. Since they’ve obliterated the bike lane along the end of this stretch, I take this section of my ride pretty slowly and carefully. So, imagine my surprise when my front wheel comes to a stop a hair into the cross walk and a woman (who, by the way, had been waiting for the light to turn red while standing IN the street) starts yelling at me at the top of her lungs about how had I hit her, I could have killed her because she has a rod in her leg (and so on and so forth…I stopped listening at some point). It seemed unlikely, as she was a stout woman, and I was going about 2 miles per hour as I rolled to a stop, but I said nothing. I couldn’t help but notice several cars stopped a few FEET into the crosswalk (and I’m the one who could have killed her?). I know there are some extremely reckless cyclists out there, and yes, cyclists have killed pedestrians (it makes big news because it is rare, but it does happen), but I am not one of them, and since this type of thing has happened before (pedestrians yelling at me while I safely ride my bicycle), I wonder, do all cyclists get this abuse no matter how we ride? Do I possibly get MORE of it because I’m female and don’t look as threatening? Do somehow pedestrians who have been hit or nearly hit by some crazed, reckless rider see me the next day and decide to take their frustrations out on me because I look unlikely to respond in a violent way? Anyway, I feel sad that someone out there has given this woman a very bad perception of cyclists everywhere, but I sure wish she’d taken her frustration out elsewhere. As for me, I’ll take my frustration out here…Cycle safely out there. Don’t give us a bad rep!

Bumpy trails, bleeding heads, boys running with oars, and angry geese…Must be spring!

With the fair-weather crowds, I’ve been riding mostly on the west side of the river. A few more bumps on the trail over there, but when faced with rollerbladers meandering the crowded trails alongside dogs on long leashes and mobs of friends walking side-by-side, I’ll take the bumps. (One can connect to the east side via the East Falls Bridge.) I suppose this will be one up-side when the oppressive heat hits us this summer. We’ll reclaim the trails!

Recent happenings/sightings on the commute include:

A cyclist (on a fold-up) with a bleeding head. She was hit near the Market St Bridge and appeared to be ok, but wow was there a lot of blood. Yikes. Wear helmets and be safe!

A high school crew team running along the trail with oars, yes OARS!, in each hand. What kind of coach sends twenty 16 year-old boys off on an extremely crowded trail to run with giant sticks? I almost stopped to take their picture, but I feared getting whacked in the head.

Poor use of taxpayer dollars example #402,003: A policeman who sits at the Walnut St. entrance to Penn Park periodically in order to tell the occasional cyclist entering to walk their bikes on the nearly deserted ramp to the park.

Angrier than normal geese. Must be mating season. Careful out there!

The crazy things people do, another alternative while the trail is still closed, and views from the train…

The trouble with nice weather is that it brings out the crowds, and with the crowds come the crazies. Here’s one example: On Tuesday I was biking home from work, enjoying the beautiful weather when I found myself behind two cyclists and a blind corner up ahead. I fell in slowly behind them, waiting for a safe place to pass. When we got around the corner, I saw ahead of them a small child on his bicycle, weaving back and forth haphazardly, and his mother, several steps behind…on her cell phone. On an open trail with few people around? Maybe. But this was not the place for negligent parenting (and yes,  there are good–or at least better…Ok, fine, acceptable?–places for negligent parenting). The three of us on the bikes slowed down almost to a standstill to allow the child and mother to pass. At that point, apparently, there were some words exchanged by the mother and the cyclist in front of me, and the next thing I know I see the mother, still on her cell phone, start yelling obscenities at the cyclist and sticking her foot out repeatedly at her wheel (to kick it? get run over? not sure…). Now, I’m a mother, and I would love to stick up for the mom here. I take my kids on trails a lot, and I have run across some real jerks on bicycles who seem to think that children should be locked up away from all trails. But the cyclist in front of me was certainly not one of them. I can only feel for the child..If only I could force people like that (the mother, I mean) to read my trail etiquette post!

In other exciting news, my bicycle is out of the shop and running great. Thank you so much to the guys at Wisshickon Cyclery I think the improvements have probably cut 5 minutes or so off my commute. See Jane ride. See Jane be happy.

There were a couple days where my bike was in the shop, and I hadn’t yet broken down and pulled out my monster Trek and therefore rode the train. And let me tell you, I do NOT want to go back to commuting by train. In the span of two days I missed the train by a hair and had to call a friend to pick up my kids from school. (Meanwhile, the second train was late.) I was squeezed between two unfriendly men, one who smelled of alcohol and one who insisted on sitting with his knees nearly three feet apart. And, of course, I shelled out nearly $16 for these privileges. I am so grateful that the option to commute by train is there when I need it, but so happy I can usually take advantage of the two wheeled option instead.

The third day without my bicycle was an absolutely gorgeous, beg-to-ride-your-bike kind of day so I pulled out my old Trek Hybrid from 2001. Certainly not the worst bike in the world, but after sitting in the basement neglected for a couple years, and after becoming accustomed to a bicycle that I love, it almost felt tortuous. I don’t know if it was the bike or just my psychological state when on the bike, but I felt like I was riding a beach cruisers while everyone else was on Madones. The only bike I managed to pass was one of those fold-up deals. (Why do people ride those on trails? Aren’t they for riding five blocks from the train to the office?…)

And lastly, should anyone be looking for another alternative while the trail work along Lincoln Drive is going on, to the side of the guard rail along Lincoln Drive there is a narrow but passable path. A bit tough to ride the whole thing without dismounting for those of us with side panniers, but at least it is an alternative.

My husband took this picture on the way home one night. This guardrail is on the northwest side of Lincoln Drive, paralleling the trail that is closed.

 

This alternative may not be there for long, however, as I got an email tonight from WMAN stating:

“Beginning Friday, March 2, a single lane will be closed on southbound Lincoln Drive from Wissahickon Drive to Forbidden Drive.  The closure is needed for the continuing repairs to the supporting retaining wall.

The closures will be scheduled at 9:00 am after the morning rush starting Friday, March 2 and daily through the next two weeks. Advanced warning signs will be placed to channel a single lane of inbound traffic around the work area. During construction, the parking area along southbound Lincoln Drive is closed.”
I’m not sure how having both the trail and the road closed will affect the option next to the guardrail. However, Ken also reports that continuing along Ridge into Manayunk to Henry to the Walnut Lane Bridge is a good alternative. And, of course, one can also turn up Midvale off of Kelly Drive and go through East Falls and Germantown.

Lesson Learned

Thursday evening I was so excited to be riding home in the dark for the first time with my new super bright light (Valentine gift from hubby), the Cygolite Expilion (I love it!) Things couldn’t have been going better. Great weather, very few crazies on the trails…Happily I’m riding along the Lincoln Drive trail, mid-way between Ridge Avenue and Forbidden Drive, when my chain snapped. Ugh. I nearly fell off my bicycle! Since it was pitch black it took me a second to even figure out what happened. (And the first thing my husband wanted to know is if I brought home the chain. Really?) I quickly went from feeling like a super hero to feeling like a scared sitting duck. So, when I get around to writing that “how to be safe on the trails” post, I’ll make sure to add “be sure your chain is in good shape”. Add this one to stuff I should have paid more attention to: When to Replace Your Chain

The good news is that hubby was easily reached by phone and did a rescue pick-up. Bad news is that my bike is in the shop until Wednesday. Since I was so late in replacing my chain, I also need a new rear cassette.

Lesson learned. Take better care of my bicycle!

After I endured a 45 minute lecture/ridicule session from my “real cyclist” brother after this incident, he sent me these fun videos:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/12674956/cycling-explained
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMCkuqL9IcM&feature=youtu.be