Monday, December 20, 2010

A Story for the Yungins!

When I picture my future/imaginary family, the conversation goes like this:

Kid 1:  Mom, snowboarding is so hard.
Me:      You have to keep at it.  I didn't always know how to snowboard. I had to keep trying.
Kid 2:  REALLY! But you are so awesome at snowboarding.
Me:      Yes mommy is awesome at snowboarding but I was not always that way.  Let me tell you a story  
             of my first time at Seven Springs

Date:  December 18, 2010
Location:  Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Time:  4:00 pm - 10:00 pm

My officemate Henry informed me of a group ski trip to 7 Springs and of course I was more than ready to hit the slopes.  In my last post, I wrote about my trip last weekend to Hidden Valley and that I had learned a lot by taking a 90 min private course.  After last Sunday, I was pretty confident in my abilities to progress and that I had learned to leaf and stop both toe and heel side.  So you can imagine that I was pretty eager and probably a little too confident of my really good Hidden Valley experience.

My officemate Henry and I

Slight digression:  I decided to rent snowboarding equipment from the Peaks Ski and Snowboard Center since I am pretty determined to make this my "winter thing".  The shop is pretty nice and the prices pretty good.  They gave me new boots and new bindings since I was doing the seasonal rental and the board is used but in very good shape.  I ride a 141 and I ride "goofy" :-)

Back to the story....

I arrived at 7 Springs geared up - snowboard, boots, gloves, snowboard jacket and pants, helmet, and goggles.  I looked like I knew what I was doing.  I tried to hit the beginners area to practice a bit but it kinda sucked.  I think that Hidden Valley has a better practice/bunny area than 7 Springs.  Anywho, I quickly became uninterested in the practice area and decided it was time to progress to the real slopes.  At 7 Springs, there are 4 different levels of slopes - green (easier), blue (more difficult), black (most difficult), and then professional (self explanatory).  I was determined to conquer a green slope and little did I know "easier" ~= easy.

Even before I laid foot, or board, on the slopes there was the task of successfully getting on and off the ski lift.  Now this task should not be looked at as trivial.  First there is the problem with having a board stuck to one leg that will be hanging. Second, the lift does not stop moving so you must be rather quick with your boarding and unloading.  I haven't quite mastered the art of walking with the board let along doing it in a timely matter as to get on the lift.  Third, the darn thing is just out right scary.  Once you get onto the lift and start ascending the mountain, you realize just how flimsy the contraption is.  I mean really, I kinda freaked out and was talking to everyone around me to keep from focusing on the height.  Lastly, the probability of a beginner getting off the lift successfully (success defined as getting the board onto the snow and gliding down a safe distance away from the lift while maintaining one's balance and vertical posture) is pretty low.  Here are my lift scores from 1-10:

Attempt 1:                            Attempt 2:                   Attempt 3:                  
Loading     8                        Loading       9              Loading     9                
Staying Calm   5.5               Staying Calm    7        Staying Calm   8          
Dismount    5                       Dismount       6           Dismount     6              
Balance    2                          Balance         8            Balance 8                    

Attempt 4;
Loading    9
Staying Calm  7
Dismount   5
Balance    0

At my 1st attempt at dismounting the lift, I successfully got out of the lift, glided about 10 ft away from the lift area, and then fell and twisted my left knee. It's pretty difficult especially when there are others in the area and because you have a foot that is not connected to the board.  My knee still is actually sore from that.  After a little "sit down" time, I pick myself up and look ahead to the trail I am about to embark on.

I take the Lost Boy Trail to another lift that took me to another green trail.  In total that day I rode over 5 miles of trials.  It was the most frustrating thing sometimes though.  Unfortunately I had not retained much of recently learned techniques and to much avail could not successfully ride "toe side".  I pretty much resorted to riding the brakes for a lot of the trails when there were more down hill areas. The session we attended was a night ski session.  One would think that the trails would be well lit but that was not the case. In fact, there were times where I was the only person on the trail, with trees around and darkness.  Pretty creepy.  Attempt 4 of the lift was going to be my last time down the hill back to the lodge.  There was a toasty fireplace and water waiting for me.  I was exhausted so I didn't even try to balance on the unloading of the lift.  I kinda half-heartedly let the lift help me down the little slope to clear you from the area and then just let myself fall.  Hence the 0 score on balance.  I had about 5 really bad falls total:

1)  The chair lift fiasco I told before
2)  While trying to ride toe side I caught the REALLY caught the edge.  A couple seconds later I was on the ground on my right knee with my face inches from the snow.  That knee, the right one, is swollen. Agh :-(
3) 4) 5)  The worst thing about the snow at 7 Springs for beginners is that it's really packed, really slick, and really hurts.  Needless to say I fell right on my tail bone 3 times where each time I kinda just laid in the snow a couple seconds to let the throbbing pass.  For the next couple of days, sitting, standing, and a number of other things made me grab my butt in pain.  Not good when your in public but hey, what else could I do?

At the fireplace in pain after 5 hours of boarding
Honestly, if I were a normal person, I'd return the board today and give up on snowboarding.  But I'm crazy and I WILL CONQUER THE SLOPES!!!! It just might take a lot longer than I was hoping.  I know one thing is for sure.  Next time, I will have KNEE PADS and ELBOW PADS.  Also, I will take more lessons at Hidden Valley.  I like my body too much to keep banging it up.  I need to learn and I need to do it soon.

At the end of snowboarding, a defeated beginner sits at the fireplace trying to figure out how the hell she could suck so bad.  But this is the making of not only a snowboarder but an athlete.  Take the beatings and the frustration and one day it will be rewarded.

That is what I will tell my kids....

Officemate after skiing

Monday, December 13, 2010

The New Biker is now The New Snowboarder

Hidden Valley Resort

Winter has hit the Pittsburgh area making cycling not too appealing.  Snow + 8 degree windchill + me + bikes + hills just don't equal anything positive.  So what am I to do for the rest of the winter season you ask?  SNOWBOARD!!!!  This past Sunday, a friend and I headed to the Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Pennsylvania.  The official opening of the resort season occurs on December 17, 2010; however, because of early season snow, they opened this past weekend.  Sunday was Free Ski/Snowboard Day when you bring 2 canned goods per person.

The morning of, the weather was pretty rainy....actually very rainy and after much coercing, I finally convinced my friend to get out of bed and drive the 1 hour to the slopes.  To little avail, it was raining still when we go near the slopes.  After more coercing and resorting to my "sad face", we decided to go into the resort anyway and check out the scene.  Guess what we found!  SNOWBOARDERS, SNOW AND LIFTS, OH MY!

Too excited, I rent my gear and hit the bunny slopes.  The only way to describe the first hour of my snowboarding experience is "too fast, too soon".  My friend was impressed by my apparent need for speed and disregard of personal well being.  My "style" was to bend my knees so that i was lower to the board. Good for seasoned racers, Bad for beginners.  I learned quickly that falling is the most energy draining and butt hurting experience and I was tired of doing it.  I signed up for lessons to speed up the quest for snowboarding awesomeness.  Lessons were being held for $15 and lasted 1.5 hours.  Because there were not many people at the resort I ended up having not one but TWO teachers for the entire lesson and THREE for 30 minutes of the lesson.

By the end of the 1.5 hours, I was a "leafing" Princess and my friend could not believe his eyes.  I must say, I was pretty proud of my natural athletic abilities and the transformation I made in just a few hours of practice.  Next time, we take on the big slopes muh ha ha ha (evil laugh)!!!!  It was a good day!

Next time videos and pictures will accompany the post but until then, Adios!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Ride to the Strip!

Today, my lab mate and I took a ride to the Strip District in Pittsburgh. The weather was pretty good for cycling. The ride started off a little cool and cloudy, but by the end of it, there were blue skies and it was pretty warm. We started out in Squirrel Hill and took Shady Avenue to Penn. This was my first time cycling through East Liberty and though the city is trying to rejuvenate the area, there are still many old, abandoned houses. Nevertheless, East Liberty has a certain charm of it's on. Some may disagree; however, I tend to find beauty in the unlikeliest of places.

First stop was Nature's Way Market where I got an awesome homemade gourmet candy cane (Oh how I love Christmas!). After, we continued to the Strip District to Penzeys Spices. This place has more spices than you can imagine. Definitely a must for trying your cooking skills on some exotic cuisine. I got the Bicentennial Rub compliments of Ronit's free coupon! Holla!!!

To return to Squirrel Hill, I had the brilliant idea of taking the Panther Hallow Trail. Lets just say, when I got off of my bike at home finally and went to carry it upstairs, my thighs were shaking. Whew, today was a workout. It was great to hang out with Ronit again! I will miss my cycling buddy when she graduates.

Time: 1:45:47
Distance: 13.96 miles
Bike: 2009 Giant Seek 2

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Rolls Down, Must Roll Back Up

In my previous post (Oh Schenley), I alluded to a new purchase made at Pittsburgh Pro Bikes.  Well, I would like to introduce you to Gabby, the newest addition to my cycling repertoire.  She is a 2009 Cannondale F5 and I got a GREAT deal!  Today was my first time out with the new bike.  I had everything all planned out:  church at 9:00 am, meet up with the girls for a ride at 10:30 am, get a little bit of Schenley in before heading home, get ready for the game.  Well,  needless to say, the plans changed.  Unfortunately my downstairs neighbors had a very loud party last night with a bunch of very obnoxious people who wanted to "wooo whooo" all night.  The weather was a little chilly this morning so I decided to hold off until the sun came out.  Of course, when the weather got a little better, I had to make a trip to Frick.  I started off on the Beechwood entrance (by the playground) and took the Riverview trail to the Lower Riverview trail to the Firelane Trail Extension.  Two-ish miles of nice fast downhill riding.  Unfortunately, I had to ride back up :-(  Besides the fact that I sucked plenty of air going back up and stopped a few times, I finally made it home, thighs throbbing and all.  I must say, mountain bikes are more fun!!!! I can't wait to get back in the woods and try out some of the single track trails.  Since I was alone I decided it was probably not the best idea to go hard core right away. I'm looking for a teacher though so if you would like to go mountain biking, let me know ;-)

As if the day couldn't get any better, I went to a nice mass at 6pm, cooked smothered pork chops, and watched the New Orleans Saints beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I'm tempted to wear my Drew Brees jersey to work tomorrow but I'm not sure it's the safest thing to do.  Until next time.... WHO DAT!

Distance:  5.96 miles
Time:  53:33
Bike:  2009 Cannondale F5 FÉMININE

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oh Schenley....

I'm BACK!!!!  I know it has been a while since I've posted about cycling but rest assured I am back and back on the bike!  Today I decided to stay *local* (the Squirrel Hill area) and I must say, my neighborhood kicked my little lazy butt!  I decided to try out the trails in Schenley park (map).  I have previously used the Lower Panther Hollow Trail to get me to the beginning of the Eliza Furnace trail but never took the time to appreciate the trails there.  I started out by taking the Upper Panther Hollow (Bartlett Street entrance) to it's conclusion.  There were still a good bit of leaves around which I thought made the ride even more enjoyable.  I love the Fall season in Pittsburgh; especially when the leaves are changing.  I unfortunately missed the peak of the season but am happy to get a few rides in before the winter chill hits.
View of Panter Hollow lake from Panther Hollow bridge

The weather was pretty decent.  I had purchased some Pearl Izumi tights from REI during a sale they were having ( and today's weather was the perfect opportunity to try them out.  I LOVE them.  I would definitely recommend them if you need some nice, affordable (well on sale at least) tights to add to your gear.

All in all the ride was great! It was a short ride because of all the hills and my poor cardio at the moment.  A lot of it went quick in the downhill of course.  I must say, some of the trails in Schenley excited me and made me wish I had a mountain bike ;-)  After the ride, I stopped into 61C cafe for a fresh fruit and juice smoothie. Yummm.  And as any addict would, had to stop into my LBS (it's on the way home) to check out the offerings.  Let's just say I didn't leave empty handed ;-)  I look forward to hitting the trails again tomorrow with some of my friends.  Until next time...

Distance: 5.18 miles
Time: 38 minutes

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beth Pruitt - Denise Denton Emerging Leader Award

I had the pleasures of attending a talk by Dr. Beth Pruitt, the Denise Denton Emerging Leader Award.  Dr. Pruitt told us about her personal career path as well as the research being done in her lab.

I found that I surprisingly have a lot in common with Dr. Pruitt.  She is an avid outdoors sportswoman, participating in hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and whitewater rafting.  Given the theme of this blog, you can probably guess that I love cycling too.  She even for a summer enrolled in whitewater rafting school that she participated in on evenings after going to the lab.

It was fitting that Dr. Pruitt spoke in the session following the impostor syndrome panel because she took the opportunity to tell us about times in her career when she too felt like an impostor.  Her current research deals with the use of MEMS technology to study the sense of touch.  She had to learn a lot of biology in order to be successful and expressed some of the difficulties she faced in doing so.  I too had to learn a new set of terminology and techniques when I went from the Computer Science to Biomedical Engineering field.  Dr. Pruitt definitely inspired me to continue learning and never give up.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

10 Things I'm Glad I Know Now About Landing a Job in Computing


Session: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Career
Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Time: 10:00 - 11:00 am;  Session One Student Track

Today I attended the student track panel 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Career and found the advice given by the panel both interesting and uplifting.  The panel consisted of  women in computing (Pictured from left to right):
  • Lora Brock (Blackboard, Inc)
  • Shana Venson (Lockheed Martin) 
  • Kate Kelly (Microsoft)
  • Gayna Williams (Microsoft)
  • Avani Patel (Symantec)
  • Kaoutar El-Maghraoui (IBM)

The group was diverse in backgrounds and years in the workforce which provided a nice body of advice for any woman looking land a job in the technical field.  There were many interesting stories from each of the women and a lot of valuable information shared.  

5 Tips I Learned from the Panel
  1. Practice interviewing with companies you do not want to work for in preparation for interview with the companies you are really interested in.
  2. Take a vacation before you start your job.  You will need this break.  
  3. Do not take the first job you are offered.  Leave room for multiple offers so that you may find the company and job that is right for you.
  4. Don't bank on thinking you have the job. Continue looking even while working on negotiating. ~ Lora Brock, Blackboard
  5. Dress nice on the first day of work because they will take the picture that will end up on your badge.
An interesting question was posed to the question in which each panelist were asked to comment on one thing that she would have done different, given what she knows now.  I would like to share some of the experiences the ladies discussed and include my little "two cents".
  • Don't let a bad experience block you forever (Kate Kelly).  Sometimes we are faced with challenging situations in school and in life that can discourage us.  Don't let those things stop you.
  • Have work/life balance.  Try to adopt your lifestyle to your job.  Do what is best for you. Understand your needs and adapt to job environment (Kaoutar El-Maghraoui).  
  • Keep in touch with your on-campus recruiter.  "Build your network before you network.  Build your network before you need them."  Take the network home from GHC and add ur on campus recruitment (Avani Patel). 
  • Utilize and take advantage of everything you can.  Development programs, mentoring, and opportunities to contribute to new projects (Shana Venson).  
  • Get internships and co-ops early.  Active on campus organizations that are relevant to your field.  Continue learning.  Know yourself and what you can contribute to the organization (Lora Brock).
  • What reputation do you want to have in the company.  Think about that and craft it (Gayna Williams).  
You can find the notes for this session posted at the GHC Wiki

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GHC 2010: Connecting Campuses Worldwide

While sitting at the registration booth doing my Hopperly duties :-), I noticed a group of women registering who said that they are from Carnegie Mellon University.  I too am a student at Carnegie Mellon; however, I am at the Pittsburgh, PA campus and the are at Carnegie Mellon Qatar!  How cool is that?  Same Universities, same interests and love for computer science but from different countries and different cultures.  We plan on meeting before the conclusion of the conference and I look forward to chatting about the Carnegie Mellon experience.

I'm a Mac!

While browsing the Career Fair at the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, I noticed a great photo opportunity.  Six Mac users sitting in a row!!  Nice coincidence.  As a fellow MacBook user, I had to stop and take a picture.  All around the conference you see a number of MacBooks in the hands of conference goers.  I remember a time when PC's were everywhere (well they still are) but these days, I see a great number of MacBooks at coffee shops, on campus, and here at the GHC.  Now don't get me wrong, I still have a handy dandy PC for some of my work; however, I LOVE MY MACBOOK!

I love how my MacBook, iPad, iPod, and iPhone (yes I'm an Apple junkie) work together in perfect harmony.  I also appreciate the "ease of use" of the Apple operating systems (Mac OS X and iOS 4). 

Mac/PC rivalries are even more brutal that the Team Jacob/Team Edward Twilight battle.  Are you a PC or are you a Mac?  If so, what made you choose a side?    

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Ride #FAIL

I realized just why I need to learn basic bicycle maintenance today.  My officemates and I planned to FINALLY take a ride and we were going to do it today.  On my way to meet up with the guys, I noticed that my front disc was rubbing and that my brakes felt kinda off.  I pulled over and made sure my disc was properly position and then kept it moving.  At the meeting point, I again check the bike because the rubbing sound was still there.  Now the officemates are trying to figure out whats going on and did some fiddling with the brake which made the disc no longer slide into it's slot.  Here I am on Shady and Beacon now with a wheel in my hand and no way to get it in.

The good thing is that there are two bike shops not to far from me.  The bad thing is that it is Sunday and didn't open for another hour.  So I locked my bike outside the shop and headed over to Pamela's for some of their famous hotcakes :-)  Might as well have something good come out of being awake early.  When the shop finally opened, the guy took 5 minutes to fix the problem.  Now, she runs like a beauty! :-)  Lessons learned today:

1)  Don't let your friends touch your bike unless they know what they are doing

2)  I suck for not being able to fix the problem myself

3)  There are adult bike maintenance classes weekly that I should probably check out.

My bike looks so sad and dismantled.  This is it parked in front of Pittsburgh Pro Bikes in Squirrel Hill.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Land of the Free, Home of the Bikers

This past weekend I took a trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate my friend's birthday.  The occasion was the perfect opportunity for me to pack up my bike and head to the Nation's Capital.  Saturday afternoon, my sister and I set out on the streets of D.C.  The day was beautiful and the weather perfect for cycling.  I have been to D.C. a few times previously and saw some of the monuments. However, walking around the National Mall is not exactly easy.  But cycling....  We visited the monuments then biked to the Library of Congress and got cards.  We rounded up the ride by getting a root beer float at Union Station.  We rode a total of 9.68 miles.


You can check out the route at the link above.  I think D.C. is a great city to cycle in.  It is full of history and scenery.  I would suggest riding there to anyone.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New to Grace Hopper? So am I

The Grace Hopper Conference is among us and I am very excited.  I have been perusing the website to find interesting talks and sessions to attend as well as picking my blogging assignments for the Community Bloggers.  Then it dawned on me, this will be my first GHC experience.  Do I know how to make the best of my opportunity to attend the conference?

In undergrad, I attended a conference called ABRCMS (the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students).  In fact, after attending 3 times as an undergrad and 2 times as a graduate student recruiting for my University, I consider myself a pretty seasoned ABRCMS veteran.  Here are 3 things I've learned from my ABRCMS experiences that I hope to use at GHC:

  1. Plan ahead:  There are a number of times when I have gotten to a conference or networking function and realized that I forgot my business cards.  Not a good look for anyone.  Make sure that you plan out what you will take with you to the conference.  If you are presenting, guard your poster/powerpoint with your life.  Just recently I managed to accidentally leave my poster at the security gate of the Pittsburgh International Airport. Fellow blogger Gail has a great entry on tips on planning for the conference.  You can find her advice at Getting Ready For a Conference
  2. Attend the Conference:  Conferences are great places to learn about new fields, meet new people, and connect with potential employers, collaborators, and/or friends.  The key to taking advantage of potential opportunities is to ATTEND THE CONFERENCE.  Simple concept, I know, but sometimes I feel the need to state the obvious.  
  3. Elevator Pitch: You never know when you will find yourself in an elevator with or standing next to a potential employer. Have a short introduction of yourself prepared. Keep it short, sweet, and interesting.  If your 90 seconds go over well, maybe you would piqued enough interest to continue the conversation. ~ Make it better ~ Got an iPad (or similar mobile device)? Upload a copy of your most recent poster to display your research if the opportunity presents itself. 
Now to all you seasoned GHC vets :-)  Please comment on this post with advice for making the most of the Grace Hopper conference.  I'm sure all the newbies like myself as well as others could appreciate the advice. 

See you in Atlanta! 

Photo credits to 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a Hopper!!!

There will be a little change in pace for the blog for the next few weeks.  I will be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing and have been selected as a Hopper Volunteer + Blogger!!! Yippie!!! Please follow me as I keep you up to date on the happenings of the conference.  This will be my first time attending and I am VERY excited about meeting new people and hearing about cool research.  If you would like to know more about the Grace Hopper organization and the conference, you can check us out at:

Or if you are more into the social networking scene, you can follow at the site of your choice:

Now that's how to stay connected.  You can also follow me via this blog or Twitter @callMeDrTaylor.

Hope to see you at GHC10!!!!

Rolling with Reva

Sunday my friend Reva and I set out on a bike ride on the Pittsburgh trails. I was uber excited about the cooler weather because I got to wear my new gear! Finally! After a pit stop to REI to put air in my tires, we head down to Washington Landing where we had lunch at a nice little cafe. We met a really nice fella who told us of a lot of cool bike rides in the Pittsburgh and Ohio areas. Hopefully we can make a couple of trips before the Winter sets in. After eating, we head down to the Strip District to pick up some produce. All in all we rode 13.75 miles. You can check out the route here at:

Gotta love the Pearl Izumi.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shape-up Time

Here I am getting coffee at my local Crazy Mocha, and I see an advertisement for a 5K that will be held on my birthday.  For those of you who know me, you know that I must participate....but you also know I HATE RUNNING!!!!

For those of you who don't know me...

Last year I decided to embark on running.  As a former soccer player, I did a good bit of running my entire life but it of course envolved a ball and defending something (the goal).  The thing that made me stop playing soccer was the off-season training I had to endure my years playing at Grambling State University. It absolutely SUCKED and my coach was a madman (not really ;-) ).  Nevertheless, running was just not my thing.

For my 24th bday, I decided that I was going to run so I bought some shoes and signed up for the Pittsburgh Great Race.  My "training" consisted of about 5 runs varying in length with none over 3 miles.  After 5 runs of preparation I ran my first 5K (which was my first time running in like 3 years!!!)  I finished the race with a time of 35:35.  Not bad I guess given I had to pee at the end of mile 2. Boy that was uncomfortable!  I stopped a few times during the course within the last 1.5 miles.

My second 5K last year was the week after the Great Race.  I did the Run Shadyside 5K and vowed to run the entire race - NO STOPPING!!!  Well I accomplished that goal and finished in 33:24.  I was proud because I didn't stop and I beat my Great Race time.

So alas, it is 5K season again and I am going to be ready this time.  I will have about a month to get in race shape.  Wish me luck.  I will need it!

Picture: Me after the Pittsburgh Great Race....and after peeing

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Ride

Today I woke up and decided that I wanted to go for a bike ride.  Here in Pittsburgh, the temperature was in the 80's and the humidity not too bad.  I took the Panther Hollow Trail to the Junction Hollow Trail.  The PH trail was a little messy. There were fallen tree branches and more rocks on the trail than usual. But all in all it was still a fun trip down (not so much back up but that's a different story).

Since it was Father's Day, there were a lot of families cycling around the city.  My first stop was Station Square.  I sat and enjoyed the music playing from the Pittsburgh version of the Bellagio watershow in Las Vegas.  It is a real treat for kids who like to get close to the fountain which sprays water out.  I also went to Point State Park, the River Trail, PNC park, and the Eliza Furnace Trail.  Awesome ride all in all.  Good way to begin a week...

Ride Length:  18.97 miles

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hitting the Trails: Montour Trail

Today I traveled outside of the city to explore the other trails in the area.  I visited the Montour Trail and had a nice time.  It was pretty hot today (upper 80's in fact).  The trail surface is of crushed limestone which I found to be a little more difficult to ride on as expected.  Nevertheless, the ride was really nice and I would recommend the trail to anyone.

Along the way I crossed paths with a group making an across-country tour in memory of a fallen soldier, Cpl Christopher G. Scherer, USMC.  Christoper lost his live while serving in Iraq July 21, 2007.  The group, named "Team Chris", is also riding to help wounded soldier Sgt. Leo Chargalauf, USMC. More information on the groups journey, the goals for the ride, and Cpl Chris and Sgt Leo can be found at:!/group.php?gid=106148432762836
Team Chris posing for a picture on the Montour Trail

Donations for the cause can be made at:

Today was a great day.  Meeting "Team Chris" and reading about their mission inspires me to do something for another person.  I too have had family members who have served in Iraq (one of which was injured during duty).  I appreciate the sacrifices they and all other members of the U.S. military have made to ensure safety for us here in the U.S.

Ride Length:  16.07 miles

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New GEAR!!!!

Ebay is like one of the best sites ever made!  I got 2 Pearl Izumi Jackets (New With Tags) for less than the price of one.

The first is a rip-off sleeve Pearl Izumi Vagabond Jacket/Vest.  It is form fitting and very light.  It retails for $99.

The second is a Pearl Izumi Infinity Jacket in pink and brown.  This jacket isn't convertible like the Vagabond but still a great feeling and looking jacket.  It is a little heavier than the Vagabond since I think it's more for cool weather and is a little less form fitting.  The two jackets are different but both great in their own respects.  

Lesson today: Before you spend hundreds of dollars in gear, check out eBay. Can save you a lot of money and still have you looking like a seasoned cyclist!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

San Francisco Dreaming

I recently returned from 3 weeks in San Francisco. I had such an amazing time and really had a chance to get to know the city. On my last weekend, Lorant and I took a really nice ride from Hayes Valley (a neighborhood) to Ocean Beach via Golden Gate Park. The ride was AWESOME and was also my first time on a ROAD BIKE. The stem was a little long but the frame was pretty good for me and I was able to ride comfortably. I guess I have something to look forward to for next year ;-) I will definitely be purchasing a road bike next year.

The best part about the ride was the company I had while taking it. The ride was so beautiful and the beach at the end was an added bonus. Definitely a perfect ending to a perfect trip.

Until next time SF...

Ride Length: ~12 miles

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pedal Pittsburgh 2010

Today I participated in Pedal Pittsburgh. The ride was amazing but I will get back to that. This morning, I decided to put more air in my tire and instead accidentally made it completely flat. Thankfully my lab mates with whom I was going to ride with, had an adaptar that I would be able to use with my tire.

The ride started off pretty smooth for the first 10 miles and then all hell broke loose. There were a lot of hills and the ride was pretty tough. I had not anticipated the difficulty of the ride. Pittsburgh can be pretty hilly and it seems that the organizers took us to every ridable hill in the city. Nevertheless, I finished and feel great. I will definitely participate again next year.

Ride Length: 35 miles

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Preparing to Pedal

So, I am participating in Pedal Pittsburgh on Sunday and signed up for the 35-mile option in my enthusiasm. The problem is that I haven't been on a bike in like a month thanks to crappy weather and the semester ending. I picked up my packet today and there will be 13,000 riders participating. This should be fun....I hope. LOL.

Wish me luck!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Frick, Frick, Frick!

Today was a lovely day in Pittsburgh. We had sunshine and temperature close to 80 degrees!!!! With all of the trees and flowers blooming, it was perfect cycling weather! The original plan was to drive out to the Butler-Freeport Community trail (a 16-mile trail just North of Pittsburgh) but I had car trouble :-( . Well not really trouble but one of my rear windows would not go back up so I had to go to a shop to get a temporary duck-tape fix until next week. Anywho, the time wasted made me not want to drive so I just went down the road to Frick Park. All in all I did a total of 7.69 miles. Given the humidity and heat, it is probably a good idea I didn't attempt the 32 mile excursion I originally intended.

Sadly, however, some of the trails in Frick were closed, making navigation a little difficult since I'm not completely familiar with the trails yet. I should probably find a map of some sorts. I saw a girl running with the cutest dog ever. While I was taking a water break, he just walked up, sat, and looked at me for like 30 sec. I had to tell him "Hi" for him to move lol.

The weather will be rainy and cold for the weekend :0( so no biking for me. Hmm, maybe next time Butler Trail. We'll see...

Ride Length: 7.69 miles

Friday, March 19, 2010

Morning Ride: Homewood Cemetery

This morning, my lab mate and I took a short morning ride to the Homewood Cemetery. Now one might wonder "Why would you want to ride in a cemetery?". It's actually an impressive and beautiful (in it's own regard) place with nice paths that people enjoy walking, running, and cycling.

Last night I installed my bike computer to the new bike so that I can track my rides. I also will post my routes on

We rode for a little under an hour and the total distance was 5.52 miles. There is a lot of winding, rolling paved paths inside the cemetery that made the ride a nice workout. The cemetery has a section where war vets are buried. Also, some of the dates on the tombstone heads date back to the very early 1900's. The Homewood Cemetery is also deemed a Historical Site. Here is a picture of me in with one of the many impressive mausoleums.

Ride Length: 5.52 miles

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And the verdict is....

I got my bike!!!!! I went to my LBS and got a great deal. I guess that is the good thing about LBS's, they real try to help you out. In case you were wondering, I picked up the 2009 Giant Seek 2 featuring Avid Juicy 3 Hydraulic Disc brakes. The bike retailed for $700 last year and lets just say I got it for a substantially lower price. They even threw in a free water bottle!

I must say, my first commute on the bike was a joy. The hills that at once gave me trouble on my previous bike were easy thanks to the Seek. I would recommend this bike to anyone! I will post pics of my actual bike a little later.

Well there you have it folks, 2009 Giant Seek 2

Let the adventures begin...

Team Estrogen

Yesterday, I spent part of my free time (okay....I have no free time so I procrastinated by...) looking for a community of women cyclist. I found them!!! LOL.

The Team Estrogen (cute name) forums are great and provide a great deal of information for newcomers and the seasoned biker alike. I found information on nutrition for taking long rides, bike maintenance, accounts of great adventures, and places to ride. I must say that after reading the forum and being welcomed in by the ladies, I am more motivated than ever to get on a bike.

Today is the day everyone!!!! I will go and find/buy my bike!!!! Wish me luck :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One bike, two bikes, three bikes, four...


I've tried out so many bikes lately, I feel like a 2 cent whore. LOL....not really but I have tried a lot of bikes out. Here is the runaround of what I have found.

I have already told you about my adventures at the Trek store here in Pittsburgh. But there are a other bike stores in the area that I have visited.

*Side note* LBS = Local Bike Store ===> I learned that today reading bike blogs

First Stop: Pittsburgh Pro Bikes
Brands: Specialized, Cannondale, and Giant

Second Stop: Bike Tek
Brands: Jamis, Raleigh, and Felt

After about bike 3, I really couldn't feel the difference anymore. Apparently the difference between brands and models comes down to one small addition or subtraction of a component. Doesn't really help me out much tho. I was still able to narrow my choices down to two. And the nominees are....
  1. Specialized Sirrus Sport: This bike is pretty light and very nice looking. I love the style of the bike. I must admit that trigger shifters took a little getting used to. The bike is pretty quick and by the time I figured out how to change gears, I was already at the end of the block. A highlight of this bike is its partially carbon fork. Carbon fiber is a lighter material than aluminum and steel. This bike was so light i could pick it up to shoulder height with one hand. :-)
  2. Giant Seek 2: Giant seems to be a company not into flashiness; therefore, the bikes tend to look like it was stolen and stripped of all it's markings. Nevertheless, this bike is AWESOME. It has hydraulic disc brakes, which I have learned are essential for all-weather riding. Aside from that the bikes is 27 speed and a pretty nice deal. Giant is the only company that offers disc brakes at this price point.

*Side Fact* - G. Joannou Cycle, the company that produces Jamis Bikes, has a woman President/CEO. Her name is Carine Joannou and took over the company from her father in 1981. GIRL POWER!!!

What do you think about the two bikes I have selected?

Monday, March 15, 2010

First "Real Bike" Experience

Last summer, a labmate of mine motivated me to begin taking bike rides around Pittsburgh. I for the first time would use my bike to commute to school and back as well as take advantage of the many bike trails Pittsburgh has to offer. Being the somewhat responsible person I am (and knowing that my abilities to commit to anything besides my boyfriend is limited), I opted for a relatively inexpensive bike (okay it was cheap). So I went to Target and bought a Schwinn bike that was on sale for <$100. This was my first bike in about 10 years. Here is a picture of me and my not-so-awesome bike last summer.

I had a lot of fun on my Target bike, but am now ready to move on to bigger and better things. A "REAL" bike. What constitutes a "REAL" bike in my opinion is as follows:
  • Cannot be bought at Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.
  • Costs more than $400
  • Knowing what a shifter, crank set, and the difference between pull and disc brakes become important
  • You "test drive" them
  • You need to be fitted
  • May or may not require special shoes
  • You have to ask for a water bottle cage and a kick stand to be included
My boyfriend is an avid bike enthusiast (like really BIG) and really knows bikes. Naturally, I turn to him for advice and begin shopping around. Being the novice I am, I turn to the obvious choice for "REAL" bikes....Trek. I decide to go to the Trek store in Pittsburgh and had my first ever test drive of what I consider a "REAL" bike.

The difference in the efficency of each pedal and the overall feel of the bike was almost breathtaking (seriously). I rode the
  • Trek 7.3
  • Trek Valencia
  • Trek Soho
All had amazingly smooth rides and were very impressive. Also, these bikes were about 10 lbs lighter than my current bike and have rather "skinny" tires, more similar to a road bike. I was told that the commuter/urban/city style bike is good for people who will commute to work and would also like a little versatility.

My goal is to find a bike that can comfortably get me to campus every day as well as take me through the streets and trails of Pittsburgh. I have realized that I will be paying upwards of $650 for one of these bikes - an amount of money that I cannot spend lightly. Therefore I will get as much information and ride as many bikes as needed to find the one that is right for me.

The search begins...