All posts by Jim


West End Overlook with Team Caffeine

This past Tuesday’s Team Caffeine ride was a scenic one, with a stop at the West End Overlook at the half way point. It’s hard not to enjoy the view from here, and the only thing better is seeing it with a hoard of bikes at the top!

If you see yourself in one of these photos and want a high-res copy, just email me at and I’ll email you the photo.


Concord Pacer S/S – My New Old Bike

I’ve had this vintage Concord Pacer S/S 10-speed road bike for a few years now, but I’m finally getting around to fixing it up. It’s a well crafted steel frame, with paint and emblems in decent shape. As far as I can tell, everything on it is original (except maybe the tires).

The biggest problem was the rear derailleur, which was mangled. So I decided to have some fun and convert it into a single speed. At this point, I’m content with keeping the rear cassette and crankset, shortening the chain and just taking off the derailleurs and cables. I have it on the big ring in front and the middle of 5 cogs in the back. I’m not sure what the tooth count is (haven’y counted), but the ratio is perfect for my commute. I’ve ridden it to work once so far and it felt pretty good, although the frame may be a bit on the small side.

I decided it would be smart to get new tires before I ride it again, given the cracking and separating tread of the old pieces of rubber currently on it (see the picture below!). I should also get new brake pads – again, aged rubber tends to not do too much to stop you when you get to a stop sign at the bottom of a hill going ~25 mph.

Here are some photos I took just after cleaning it up (click on the thumbnails for bigger pictures):

dirty bottom bracket

Dirty Bottom Bracket

I started hearing the metronome-like tick-tick-tick of the bearings down by my feet as I was biking to work the other day. The unmistakable sound of a bottom bracket gone bad. So I removed the bottom bracket to get the part number and measurements (how am I supposed to remember that it’s a Shimano ES25 with a shell width of 68mm and spindle length of 118mm?). Once I got the bottom bracket out, I was surprised the thing still spins at all.

dirty bottom bracket

It took me 10 minutes to clean it enough just so I could read the measurements inscribed on the shell. Lesson learned. Don’t be like me. Replace your bottom bracket before it gets this bad.


BMC Demo Day at North Park

I’m hooked. I went to the BMC Demo Day put on by the fine folks at Top Gear Bicycle Shop agt North Park today. Instead of riding the trails, which I normally do at North Park, I wanted to try something different – a road ride. I’d only been on a road ride once before, many years ago. And even then it was on my mountain bike.

The fact is, I’ve always considered myself a mountain biker, not a roadie. I love single track, zipping between trees and over rocks and roots. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush, or maybe it’s the escape into nature, but I’ve never had the urge to take to the road. I guess I thought compared to mountain biking, it would be kinda boring.

I was wrong.

I won’t go into the reasons why I’ve become so obsessed with road riding – I’ll just leave you with a few shots I grabbed after the ride.

Pittsburgh's first bike corral 3

Pittsburgh’s First Bike Corral

Pittsburgh’s first on-street bike corral was officially unveiled today just outside Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was on hand to give the “bikes are good for the city” speech in front of the overflowing row of bikes.

Pittsburgh's first bike corral 1

Pittsburgh's first bike corral 2

Pittsburgh's first bike corral 3

Pittsburgh's first bike corral 4

Pittsburgh's first bike corral 5

On-street bicycle corrals have proven to increase parking capacity while encouraging people to bike. Bike corrals increase parking capacity from 1-2 cars to 12-24 bikes – significantly raising the customer capacity in neighborhood business districts.

Pittsburgh has been making great strides in an effort to be more bike friendly, thanks to the efforts of organizations like Bike Pittsburgh. In 2010, Pittsburgh earned the Friendly Community Bronze status from the League of American Bicyclists and was named one of “America’s top 50 bike-friendly cities” by Bicycle Magazine, after being derided as one of the nation’s worst only 20 years ago.

By the end of 2012, Pittsburgh will boast 600 new bike racks, 22 miles of scenic riverfront trails and almost 40 miles of on-street bike lanes. Other efforts include the city’s first ever comprehensive transportation plan – MOVEPGH - which will be comprised of three main components, including a bicycle/pedestrian plan.

Waterproof your bag for less than 7 cents [Video]

I hate riding to work in the rain. One of the biggest challenges is just keeping your backpack ( and more importantly, the contents inside) dry. I have a trick that I use whenever it looks like it’ll rain – watch the video below to see how I waterproof my backpack for less than 7 cents.


Also related to riding in the rain, learn the secret to drying out your wet shoes.


Looking for some waterproof pants for that soggy ride?

Try these on for size!

Endomodo App

The National Bike Challenge 2012

Check out this incredible program – The National Bike Challenge. This free program goes from May 1 to August 31, with the goal of getting 50,000 people nationwide to bike 10 million miles.

I know, that seems audacious. But it is completely doable, and it all starts with you. Go to the website, sign up, and start biking to work. No more excuses – 49,999 other people are going to be right there with you. There’s even an app for your smartphone (iPhone, Android or Blackberry) to help you keep track of your miles.

Endomodo App

Huge thanks to the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong, Kimberly-Clark Corporation and Endomodo for putting the dollars and efforts into this program.

Pittsburgh sunrise over the river

Photos: Sun Rising Over Pittsburgh Rivers


The past couple of weeks have been perfect for biking to work. The mornings have been cool enough to keep from sweating on the way to work, and the afternoons have been almost summer like. With days like this, it’s hard not to stop and take some pictures along the route. Below are just a few from along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, just by Station Square.

Pittsburgh sunrise over the river

Pittsburgh sunrise looking at Smithfield Street Bridge

Pittsburgh skyline in the morning

baby wipes

2 Essential Items for Biking to Work

One thing that often prevents people from biking to work is the idea of sweat. No, not the fact that they would have to put some effort into getting to work. But what to do about staying fresh and clean around your coworkers. Nobody likes BO.

I’ve found two items absolutely essential for my daily commute – baby wipes and deodorant.

baby wipes

Being the father of two beautiful children (ages 1 and 2) I find myself in plentiful supply of baby wipes. And they are perfect for wiping yourself down after you get to work. Just take a stack of baby wipes and put them in a quart-sized zip lock baggie. When you get to work, take out a baby wipe or two, scrub down all the necessary areas (you know which ones), then apply some deodorant and you’ll be fresh as a daisy. Money back guarantee.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own dedicated restroom where you work, you’re probably looking for a good (private) place to do this cleansing. I suggest the handicapped stall in a restroom. It’s usually bigger and (if you’re lucky like me) it’ll have its own sink.

How do you stay clean after your commute? Let me know in the comments!