Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Just below this post, Brendan speculates (more cogently than he gives himself credit for) on how the impending financial apocalypse will trickle down to the two-wheeled set. Naturally, everything that happens will depend, at least to a certain degree, on whom we elect as our next president. The winner of the election has been a matter of considerable speculation of late, and I am glad to say the need for conjecture is over. Just remember the old slogan, "As goes the sale of candidate-specific coffee cups at the 7-11 on Prospect and Park, so goes the nation," then feast your eyes on the following irrefutable photographic proof of Barack Obama's coming victory:
Friday, September 26, 2008
(It's hard to follow a sobering pair of posts like those below with something lighthearted, but, well, here I go anyway.)
I rode to Middletown last night at 9:30 on one of my periodic car-retrieval missions, and for the first time, it felt unmistakably like autumn: Crisp, cool air; that particular sound that seems at first to be the slight movement and breathing of one person very closeby, but turns out to be many many dry leaves farther away; and the actual need for long sleeves and gloves. It was marvelous - much better than today's wet iteration of the season, which I also rode in, although not so happily.
The highlight came in Wethersfield, when I came upon some crazy person with her car stopped perpendicular to traffic, totally blocking the lane, with the engine running and bright headlights shining into an empty field. "What is this moron doing?" I thought to myself. Then I looked where her headlights were shining and saw a deer, frozen like, well, a deer in headlights. There were three of them there, not more than twenty feet from me, just chillaxing and being wild. Even after all the deer I have seen in my life (which are numerous), it is still neat to see them up close.
After a few minutes, I headed on down the road and all three deer started to gallop after me (perhaps mesmerized by my red blinky light or the goofy awesomeness of the Xootr). They followed me for about a block, which was just long enough for me to start entertaining notions of leading a crazy deer stampede all the way to Middletown (or all the way to Washington, to demand a redress of deer grievances from the government), then veered off into some wooded area. Here's a picture I took of the deer in headlights, which, while blurry, is worth clicking on to get a larger view:
Bicyclist Struck In West Hartford
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY | Courant Staff Writer
9:49 AM EDT, September 26, 2008
WEST HARTFORD - A bicyclist and vehicle collided at Boulevard and Whiting Lane this morning. The accident was reported shortly after 8 a.m., police said.
The extent of the injuries of the male bicyclist -- an adult -- was not clear. According to a report from the scene, the bicyclist was conscious but dazed.
Police were continuing their investigation.
(Disclaimer: This is not a photo from the accident, nor is it from West Hartford)
The Courant reported this morning that a bicyclist was struck by a car along Boulevard in West Hartford and although in a "dazed" state was otherwise not seriously injured. These types of incidents are always disconcerting, however, the fact that the accident took place two blocks from my house and along my daily commuter route makes it all the more unsettling. I know we cannot take more from the incident until more details come out but as I travel this route daily and as it is a major thoroughfare for bike commuters I can personally attest as to the need for 'real' bike lanes on this central artery connecting West Hartford and the Beat. Cars move far too quickly along this road and while there is a nice wide shoulder and decent road quality throughout the route the fact that parked cars and bikers share the same portion of this infrastructure it leads to a dangerous tendency for bikers to move between the road and the shoulder according to whether parked cars are in their way. I know this is one of the biggest taboos of bike commuting and a very dangerous practice, however, the road is too busy with auto traffic in both directions to take the lane all the time. This increases the propensity for the rider to constantly move from the road to the shoulder to allow drivers to move past at their rapid pace in order to decrease the likelihood of pissing them off and inciting an altercation. I have found myself many times frantically looking over my shoulder to check the lane while coming up upon a car parked in the parking shoulder... oh I mean bike lane... in order that I might take the lane without getting run over or hitting the parked car. This makes for a dangerous situation and an unstable bicycling experience. I have been fortunate thus far not to have been hit, to run into a parked car, or to simply dump it as I was glancing over my shoulder, but it seems someone this morning was not. Lets just hope they are ok and that the driver was not on their cell phone. Read more!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Every blog post deserves a photo, but sometimes it's hard to find something appropriate (and a picture of a Metro-North train or of the governor would have been too predictable). So here's a picture I took one time of a yellow car called "Fury I," which is surely sort of fitting for a post about mass transit, right?
Governor M. Jodi Rell (or "M.," as her friends call her), announced the addition of more Metro-North trains in Connecticut yesterday, effective October 1. As a frequent Metro-North patron, I was happy to hear this, especially the following (from the Ridgefield Press): According to M., ridership on the New Haven line through August is up 5% compared to last year and intrastate ridership (i.e., trips that begin and end, like all of mine, in the Nutmeg State) is up 16% for the same period!
Could it be that car-loving Connecticut is finally getting wise to the glories of mass transit? (Maybe.) Is there an ever-growing army of folding-bike-toting, multi-modal commuters plying the railways? (Almost certainly not, but when there is, I will lead that army into battle.) This might just be what they call a teaching moment, and smart manufacturers of bicycles would be well advised to devise clever advertising and promotions that sell suburbanites on the glories of functional (rather than strictly recreational) two-wheeled travel (folding bike companies, I'm especially looking at you. Xootr, as we know, is staffed by clever geniuses who understand the real deal, but Dahon? Hello? This is the moment for you to hit the big time). Read more!
Monday, September 22, 2008
The sun sets behind the Arrigoni Bridge as we pedal toward Middletown.
On Friday, it was that same old story: Car in Middletown, self in Hartford, so I put the word out to the extended BBB family that I would be making the pilgrimage by bike at quitting time and sought riding companions (promising to drive people and their bikes back in my capacious Corolla). Considering the splendid early autumn weather (and my not insignificant interpersonal skills), you would think a great internet clamor would have arisen over who would claim the limited spaces in my car. But in fact, only Bianca stepped up.
Just as well, really - I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to fit two full-sized bikes and two people (and me and my Xootr) in the whip. In any event, it was an absolutely marvelous, leisurely ride. We took the East Hartford-Glastonbury-Portland route, and we took pictures. You can see them after the jump.
So long, Hartford!
Hello, East Hartford, you mighty industrial powerhouse on the banks of the Connecticut River!
Because I take bicycling seriously, but not too seriously, I dressed in business casual attire (it was Friday, after all).
Bianca, in contrast, showed a complete lack of respect for the austere and sober art of velocipede piloting.
In Glastonbury, we got on Route 17. I had forgotten that this road has an elevated, fast-highway-type section. It was a little alarming to be there on bikes, but kinda nice.
Luckily, Route 17 soon narrowed to a smaller (and actually more dangerous) two-lane road.
Had we not been racing (and raging) against the dying of the light, we might have stopped at one of the many enticing farm stands lining Route 17.
Instead, we stopped at a pumpkin patch, which featured a real-life farmer driving a real-life tractor, hearkening back to our state's agrarian roots.
This sign in Portland encapsulates what we all know so well: Old Maids = Bulky Waste.
Sunsets make for pretty scenery.
In Portland, the corn was as high as an elephant's eye.
Finally, with darkness falling, we reached the good old Arrigoni Bridge, which took us from Portland to Middletown.
Irrefutable photographic evidence that we crossed the river at 6:57 p.m.
Nous sommes arrivee!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Sean passing out the prizes
Sean has thrown this alleycat for four years now and really hooked up a great race this year. Baileyworks and Manhattan Portage sponsored with a few bags and there was plenty of PBR and Schaffer after the race at South Whitney House. Joel, Lauren, Krash, Tony and I rode the 30 mile Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour that morning/afternoon and then raced that night. I heard Valdez won a mountain bike race that morning as well. Wow. That's a lot of pedaling y'all.
the list from Sean...unsure of after 10 hub stati
3 Goo (fixie)
5 Jeremy (fixie)
7 Ryan (fixie)
9 Lauren (fixie)
16 Shane (fixie)
20 Steve T
DQ's Ashley Ross Smitty
1st out of town Jeremy
The checkpoint on the East Hartford side of the Founders Bridge was a bit of a challenge due to the Pilobolus performance at the Riverfront Recapture tent/ampitheater. There were lots of people and rangers and cops along the park on top, which connects Constitution Plaza with the Founders Bridge. The more racers that passed through the area, the more the cops and security yelled. Eventually riders were being stopped and lectured and threatened with arrest! I heard some crazy stories and was super happy i got through very early on with little trouble.
I left Union Place and was about to head to Townley Street when i realized i skipped the freakin' Ancient Burial Ground checkpoint. Fuck! Shit! Damn! Hell! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I prolly lost 4 or 5 minutes backtracking and then rebacktracking right past Union Station again to get to Asylum Hill. ARRGGG! But i did ride extra hard at that point. Cussing myself helped alot.
Steve T, Tony and Rob
more photos after the jump
Nate and Sabrin
Kristen and Bianca are always ready to sign yer manifest!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
As you read, you will see that this post is about a ride from Bridgeport to New Haven, meaning that it really should have been titled, "Once More Unto the New Haven." But that's dumb, and since I don't work for the New York Post, I don't often get to write punny headlines, let alone headlines that allude to Shakespeare, so allow me some poetic license, OK?
I've extolled the pleasures of intercity bicycle riding in Connecticut before, including the New Haven-to-Bridgeport 20-mile jaunt. But just as Brendan has observed that riding a mountain trail in the opposite direction from what you're used to turns it into a whole new trail, so, too, going from Bridgeport to New Haven feels different than the reverse, as I discovered yesterday. Either way, Route 162 is a fairly nice way to go - not nearly as busy as US 1, nor as infested with endless, sprawling, gaudy car dealerships. It has some hills, but nothing insurmountable, and there are a number of nice glimpses of the Sound. Also, perplexingly, there seems to be a CT Transit bus stop about every 100 yards, but no buses.
Most importantly, just a few days before undertaking this little voyage, I switched from a rear rack to a front basket on the Xootr (not in anticipation of the Park-City-to-Elm-City Invitational Tour, but because on some level, I'm never truly happy unless I'm modifying my bicycle in some way). (I used the stem-like part of the Crossrack with an old seatpost to create a lower, secondary handlebar, onto which I affixed a basket. This makes for a nice low center of gravity and the pin mechanism in the Crossrack makes it easy to remove. See pics below.)
This new setup proved much handier for quick jaunts when I'm carrying a heavy bag, since I can toss the bag in the basket instead of taking the time to secure it to the Crossrack in back with a complicated system of trusses and pulleys. More importantly, it serendipitously gave me the chance to live out my secret dream of being a charming, Audrey Tautou-esque young Frenchwoman who tools around with a fresh baguette in her bicycle basket. Why was this serendipitous? Because when I set out, heading east on Boston Avenue in Bridgeport, I had no idea that (a) upon reaching the turn for the Stratford train station, I'd suddenly decide to keep going straight toward New Haven, and (b) I'd stumble upon the Milford-Woodmont Farmer's Market at the corner of Rte. 162 (a.k.a. New Haven Avenue) and Merwin Avenue.
Naturally, finding myself on a bicycle with a basket, I had no choice but to purchase a fresh baguette (also, two pounds of fresh-caught haddock and some delicious goat cheese, or chevre, com on dit en francais), making the remainder of my ride whimsical and continental. I also saved $2.75 in trainfare, which financial windfall took the sting out of the high cost of the cheese and added further joie de vivre to my already Parisian level of gaiety. Read more!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
There's an editorial in the Hartford Courant today about the 2008 Hartford Bike Tour that summed up the general feeling about the event thusly:
As one rider put it, "Wow!" The effect was stunning. If you see the city only from the highway, you are missing something. Hartford has well-documented difficulties, problems that need urgent attention. But to see the great city parks, the historic buildings, the new homes where dank housing projects used to be and the new schools is to realize that there is much here to fight for.
I wonder how they got their quote ("Wow!") from this "one rider" person? That's one hard-hitting interview and quite the display of journalism. They didn't even plug the Beat Bike Blog despite the fact that "one rider" was handing out handfuls of BBB stickers in his (or her) orange vest. Or so I would like to think...
And hey, in the comments so far, there's only one reference to bullet-proof vests!
No read more! Read more!
So I headed over to Elizabeth Park this morning to do some reading and I began to think about Hartford's Parks. As many who read this blog may recognize our fair city has a plentiful allotment of beautiful parks, many of which are highly under-appreciated and underutilized. Perhaps, I thought, people just do not recognize the wonderful resources at our toe clips, many of which less than a 15 minute bike ride from our front doors. This is the first of what will be a series of posts identifying and documenting our scenic local parks.
As I live and work in West Hartford the majority of my leisure time spent in parks is spent in my favorite, Elizabeth Park. Tucked between Asylum and Ferns Streets and straddling the West Hartford/Hartford line created by Prospect, Elizabeth Park was incorporated in 1900, the original plan the result of adaptations made to a former estate property by the first park superintendent, Theodore Wirth. The Eastern, or Hartford section of the park is 19 acres and the larger Western, or West Hartford side is 82 acres. The park's design is more a demonstration of gardening techniques and a showcase of the beauty of the park's flora rather than a unified design manifested in larger landscape parks such as Keney or Bushnell. In Elizabeth it is the beauty of the plantings that really captures the eye of the visitor, rather than the expansive view of rolling lawns and the grouping of trees. As can be seen in the photos above and below this intention is well-preserved and maintained today. Read more.
The rose gardens in the park, many would agree are its most notable feature and as being planted in 1904 are some of its oldest. Another impressive aspect is the park's pond, hand-dug and flooded by a small stream running through the park in 1898. The rustic stone bridges that span the pond add beauty and interest to the water feature.
Another great resource within the park is the Pond House Cafe, a great restaurant with amazing decor, great food, and obviously a beautiful backdrop.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day for a wonderful event here in Hartford. I have no idea what the turn-out was this year, but from all the smiles I saw, it seems like a raging success. Thank you to the CCBA, all the volounteers, all of the sponsors, and to the walkers and riders for a great morning and afternoon. I got some great photos of all the shenanigans!
I saw many more police officers corking intersections this year, it was great. As soon as cyclists arrived at a manned intersection, the officer stopped traffic to let us through. Yeah baby! I also saw riders, not just marshals, stepping up and corking a bit! Well done! We all felt like VIP’s! I also really liked the waterproof maps and cue sheets. Well done CCBA! Great idea! But, just curious, who uses the cue sheets!?!? Who!?!?
I think Keney Park once again stole the show. The cool shade of the tree lined roads felt great as the day warmed up a bit. Enroute some hateful, racist yelled, “Go Home!” from his car on the bridge near Weston Street. I found that sadly funny as I, along with many others, live in Hartford. Ha! I guess that’s why it’s called ignorance! Anyways, Keney Park! Woo-haaa! The riverfront was also nice, but I spent a lot of time in the beginning of the tour helping people with my mini-pump. I really wish I had brought a floor pump, but I wasn’t expecting to be a marshall!
This dude and his doggy are ready to pedal the city!!!
Not sure what else to write. There’s a bunch of photos of the tour and our afterparty @ Kenny’s (Red Rock Tavern) after the jump. They are all in chronological order since I’m kinda anal like that somethines! Enjoy.
Click read more to see more!
“I do it in Hartford” I want that woman’s t-shirt!!!!
Joel and Kristen hard at work at the registration table! Hey, i think he likes you. Get a room!!!
Bianca and a Velomobile with a sticker saying “Bianca Signs” She's says no relation...but who knows!?!? I think she secretly makes bicycles and signs at night in her basement. I forget the dude’s name…sorry!
Krash and Wizzy on the tandem. They later arrived at Kenny’s (Red Rock Tavern) on another tandem. There’s atleast 3 in town right now scooting around. NICE!!
Rick, ohhh Rick. Another flat! Dang dude! What's with you and flat tires. There’s Babaganoush and Lindsey just about to ride past him wondering the same thing!
I dub thee, “The Yosemite RV!” WOW! What a set-up! I love it! Notice the kid's bike on the rack on the trailer!
Sonny showing how much of a safety man he is…tubes and patches! Good thing too, as he later entertained us with an amazing over-the-handlebars dismount on Fern Street. The average judges' score was an 8.6! We were stopped for Ben’s 2ed flat and the homeowner came out with a floor pump! Yeah! Go Hartford! I have no idea why everyone who got a flat…got two? Wierdness indeed.
Do not attempt to adjust yer computer monitor. The water in this pond in Goodwin Park is indeed green...really green! So green, that stuff floats on top of it!
I actually discovered something new about Hartford!; this pathway between Wethersfield Avenue and Brainard Road. I don’t think its usually open though, but what a great little shortcut!
I always seem to get people into situations like these! I wanted to continue along the riverfront and not backtrack so we went this way to avoid being seen and having people mistakenly follow us. Atleast she has a cross bike and well... this is what it is made for!
Donnie taking orders and making us laugh at Kenny’s. I respect and like Donnie a lot, though I pretty much refuse to call the bar by its new name, Red Rock Tavern! I am going to get him elected mayor someday because he runs a great business and really knows how to treat people and keep them coming back. Corner of Capitol and Lawrence Street. Lots of lockable bike parking along the patio fence.
hmmm…Rick again…and now on a different bike! After his second flat, he stopped home and went for the burly mountain bike!
Amy Z and Big Nick chatting amongst the dozens of bikes in and around the bar!
More bikes at the bar. Krash and Wizzy switched to Amy Z’s and Rick’s tandem, seen here. Lots of tandems around. I like that.
Dawn and I took a ride around the block while waiting for our food. It was each of our first times on such a bike. Fun! I’d like to go on another short ride on one.