Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Unique Asset

Mt. Hartford, or the Hartford Landfill, is generally regarded as one of Hartford's terrible detractors. Residents in North Hartford have long and justifiably complained about its stench and travelers on I-91 have lamented its eyesore-ish qualities.

It's now closed and an advisory committee has been established to figure out what to do with it next. That group went and visited the landfill this evening; opinions have changed. Seldom have I seen a group of people wandering around which such wonder and curiosity. It was like being at the Grand Canyon. Gears are cranking in people's heads to figure out what next to do with new land with a really great view. Methane collection valves be damned!

Also, I may be the first (or not) to ride up and down Mt. Hartford on a bike.















Read more!

Spring Cleaning

This guy is pretty cool. Perhaps we can put people back to work manually sweeping the streets. Should would reduce carbon emissions.

So after a treacherous and nerve-wracking commute all fall on the discarded refuse of deciduous trees and all winter on the sands and salt poured all over the road by public works it is finally spring. I witnessed one of the most welcome signs to this effect today as a lumbering mechanical beast crawled down my street whisking away all of the sticks, rocks, sand, and leaves that had been forced into the bike lane (aka the shoulder) over the past few months. Despite my ambivalence, at times disdain, for vehicles powered by internal combustion engines I love to see street sweepers plodding down the road leaving it neat, clean, bare, and safer for bicyclists.

How nice it is to be able to maneuver around a suddenly stopped car or allow a large truck or bus to pass without venturing into the land of the unknown, without fear of slipping out on the loose traction of sand or leaves or risking a puncture. I always wonder what kind of cache of nails, glass, or razor sharp metal objects are laying under the soft surface of sand waiting to pierce my soft and temperamental tires. Now the bike commuter can again turn all of their attention to their persistent foes the automobile and the pothole. We can yield the lane (if we so choose) without fear of danger or harsh repercussions. We can zip past stalled traffic and around turning vehicles, in the process flaunting our efficiency and maneuverability to delayed drivers.

Hopefully returning the majority of the street to automobilists will reduce some of the hostilities we have experienced through the winter as cars rebelled against our brazen challenge for equal treatment. More than likely, however, this will be a temporary truce and things will slowly return to the daily clash of car vs. bike. In the meantime, however, I will enjoy my clean roads and newly-restored travel lane while I scan the horizon for voids in the pavement and glance over my shoulder alert for approaching vehicles. Read more!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The other critical mass

I had a meeting at the Park House by Keney Park this morning. I was returning to work and saw a big group of bicycle riders behind the library on Prospect Street. My first thought was, "critical mass on a Tuesday morning? That's weird." Then, I noticed they were all cops. It appeared they were training or something like that. I bet they don't get any of the shit that other group rides get. I snapped a couple of pictures of this sight, but they didn't come out that great:



I followed them up to State House Square where they were debriefing.
Read more!

More socks


Your intrepid and wool-clad Cat 3 racer went back into the woods last weekend at Winding Trails in Farmington and came out with not just socks, but also a cool multitool. The 15th Annual Fat Tire Classic was last Sunday and I had a great time. By a hair's breadth, I got second place in the 19-29 Cat 3. I started in third, but got in second after the first mile or so of the first lap and I had the leader about 100 yards off for until the end of the first lap, when he finally pulled away from me. The man who came in second, Kyle, started creeping up on me and was soon riding my wheel. This went on for the middle third of the second lap (of two), he'd get really close on climbs and then I'd beat him back into the single track. Suddenly, he was gone and after the race he told me that he slid out in some sand. I thought I was sitting pretty and started taking it easy. As I approached the finish, I saw him maybe 50 yards behind me, but thought I was cool. I was not. If it wasn't for the spectators telling me to "watch out! he's right behind you!" I would have been behind him by half a bike instead of in front by half a bike. I was fourth fastest overall, but the fastest in Cat 3 was a woman who just decimated everyone.

Soon, if I move up to Cat 2, I'll write great race reports about puking and coming in last. Read more!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The fish we eat, the trees we smell, and a college radio reference

I rode north toward home this evening, with all the April heat from the pavement and the smells of urban trees in bloom. Bradford Pears, a Lilac or two, and... a burned clutch or brake dust. The moon was a slim hammock.

The best part of my ride was my long-delayed, first-ever stop at the Lion's Den Vegetarian Restaurant (view map in new window). It's more like a tiny lunch counter, actually, with three stools and view through the plate-glass storefront. There was a gray tenspeed, utilitarian but cared-for, leaned against window when I arrived. Inside, a box was playing some old roots reggae. I used to have a reggae radio show at KDIC, but I had never heard "When I fall in love, it will be forever..." Respect man, nothing is free.

I chose a couple pieces of fish from a warm tray under hot lights. One was a whole fish, a little one. The skin was crispy and fatty and the meat was sweet. The other piece was a hearty cross-section of a bigger fish- and it was spicy on the outside. Yo reader, both these fish hit the spot! Next time I'll try the Ital soup. Respect!

Fish is the perfect food for bicycling. Lean protein, good fats, just drink a little juice and you're done. I did a Windsor-Manchester-Hartford road tour on Saturday and a tuna salad saved my sweaty self at a bench on Case Mountain: canned tuna, kalamata olives, olive oil, lemon juice, red onions, apple, raisins.

Don't eat bluefin tuna, sharks, swordfish, or other tippy-top of the food chain predator fish. US shellfish is relatively well-regulated and managed, especially Maine lobster and blue mussels. Asian shrimp and farmed fish is too likely from a filthy, polluting, poorly-managed farm carved out of some wetlands. Wild-caught Alaskan and Canadian pacific salmon is relatively sustainable at the moment. Do what you will with Atlantic Salmon, almost all of it is farmed. Find out more about healthy, "sustainable" fish choices and print out a wallet-sized reference guide here.

Where and what do you stop to eat when you ride through town? Read more!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Critical Mass!

CM group shot

As is customary, CM went down on Friday. A solid 13 riders were in the mix, and we set out from the carousel in Bushnell Park at around 6:15. Ken had the good graces to bring a ginormous boom box, Joel had the good graces to use his mountain man skills (lately matched by his mountain man beard) to secure the boom box to Ken's rear rack with rope, and the rest of us just had the good graces to rock out:

Mr. Boombastic

We looped around downtown a bit then headed south on Main Street, eventually went out Franklin, looped down South and back on Wethersfield, cut through Colt Park and past the Sports Sciences magnet school, and ended up at Charter Oak Landing, where we took the lovely group shot above. Then we headed back downtown, a few of our number split of to various points unknown (to me), and the remainders headed to Kenny's (a.k.a. Red Rock Tavern) on Capitol for beers. There was karaoke going on, along with some sort of rugby event, so your humble correspondent had to hit 'em with the Guantanamera to get the joint jumpin'. Nothing gets the rugby girls swooning like Guantanamera, let me tell you.

Anyway, here's some pictures of the event (as always, click on a picture to see a larger version):

Critical Mass Hartford  April 2009

CIMG4377

Rudimentary cargo trailer
We saw this guy on Wethersfield Ave. with a very rudimentary cargo trailer - so rudimentary, in fact, that it was just a shopping cart tied to a bicycle. While we recognized that such a set-up would likely prove problematic when heavily loaded or during downhill stops, we also thought it would be awesome to customize a shopping cart with bike wheels and a proper hitching system, then put in a car battery, an amp, and some fat house speakers (so the new shit can rock from Bronx to Massapequa). Ken and I will be getting on that project soon. Read more!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bike to Work Day in the Courant: BBB Gets Love!



Our own Ben Bare and some other jokers were prominently displayed in the Courant's story with video accompaniment today about Ride Your Bike To Work Day, which is today (and, you know, every day, but all the other days there's no free bagels and coffee at the Old State House). Columnist Rick Green even shouted out the Beat Bike Blog on his blog, which covered RYBTW Day a little bit more. (Props to Ben for telling Green that "the place to learn about cycling is the local Beat Bike Blog." Word up!) With that kind of slow-news-day synergy, I would have expected an accompanying editorial about how worthwhile it is to ride bikes but alas, there's just some dumb stuff about planting trees (the Courant is in favor) and the dangers of killers who use craigslist to stalk their victims (the Courant wants you to be careful out there, OK?). (For a moment, I also got excited that there may have been another cycling-related story in today's paper, but it turned out that the article headlined "Lawyer in Messenger Case Files Complaint Against Another Lawyer" has to do with some guy named Messenger, not a bicycle courier.)

Anyway, now that we've received the imprimatur of the city's paper of record, I expect a massive increase in traffic to this website. So to our new readers, I say, "Welcome! This bike-riding in Hartford, it's a good thing, and we Beat Bike Bloggers are here to facilitate your two-wheeled exploration of our city in any way we can. So please, if you have any questions concerning bicycles and Hartford, ask them in the comments, and we will endeavor to answer them. And don't forget Critical Mass this afternoon at 5:30 by the Bushnell Park carousel!" Read more!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some pictures from recent rides

When I returned from the airport the other night after returning my awesome rented Toyota Yaris, it was dark and pouring rain. But I'm an artiste, see, so that didn't stop me from taking pictures. Also, I had just finished crafting a new tripod from an old music stand, a cork, a piece of a reflector bracket, and some nuts and bolts, so I was eager to take some low-light shots. I managed only two that were remotely worth keeping. Here they are (as always, click for a larger version):

Mill Brook Package Store

It's a package store in Windsor. That is all.


Luke, I am your building.

For some reason, a lot of apartment buildings in West Hartford have names. (There is another one called, inexplicably, "Asia.") I would like to think that the apartment numbering system in this building goes [floor number] - [apartment number], so, like, if you lived on the fourth floor, your apartment number might be 4-4, and then, instead of telling people where you lived by saying the address and the apartment number, you could say, "man does not live by bread alone," because that's Luke 4:4. (Or if you were on the fourth floor in apartment 8, you could just always blast that one White Stripes album, because Luke 4:8 contains the phrase, "Get thee behind me, Satan.") Read more!

Terrorist or Monster Attack???

As you know, people in the Hartford area cannot drink tap water right now without injesting rotifers and copepods. Boiling water, as prescribed by The MDC, is cumbersome and bottled water is enviro-unfriendly. What are you doing to cope?

Strangely, when this news broke, I was at the reservoir mountain biking (WH reservoir, not Bloomfield). I also had a camelback filled with MDC water.

Remember when it looked like this?

Also, I'm very surprised that no one has made mention of the Reservoir Monster. Mentioned here, here, and here.


Read more!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

So today is Earth Day, and even though for folks like your beat bike bloggers, who love bikes, nature, public transportation, and all that good stuff, every day is Earth Day, still, the date should be recognized. But how?

Truth be told, I don't really get Earth Day. When I was in high school, we made an awesome mural, where each student made some small painting with a particular color or something, then somehow we put them all together like pixels and they made a picture of the earth, and we felt like that was good. Of course, in the process, we used a ton of paper and the paint was probably distilled from whale blood (so lustrous!), and basically our whole endeavor made sea levels rise and cows fart. Just so, the Bike Snob today points out that biking maybe isn't super envirolicious, given the carbon footprint of bike manufacturing and shipping and all that. So really, every time we try to do stuff that's earthy, we're just making Bambi and Thumper cry.

What we need are some real, innovative solutions for reducing emissions and wasste and all that good stuff. Here's my suggestion: COP CARS NEED TO EASE UP ON THE IDLING. Seriously. The other night I made one of my periodic rides to the airport to rent a car (environmentally friendly? not especially, but better than owning a car and driving it all the time, right? right? right) and was accompanied by Rich, another blogger affiliated with this very blog. On our way there, we had many interesting conversations (and interestingly, on the way back from dropping the car off the next day, I noticed that whenever I passed a particular spot on our route, I would suddenly recall what Rich and I had been discussing there, which was, given the high quality of our conversation, a particularly pleasant way to have a solo ride), one of which concerned a Windsor cop car we saw sitting in a gas station idling. The cop was drinking coffee, keeping his keen eyes on the lookout for ne'erdowells, but emphatically not going anywhere in a hurry. The night was warm and he had a window open. SO WHY HAVE THE CAR RUNNING, WINDSOR'S FINEST? DON'T YOU LOVE THE EARTH?!! DON'T YOU?!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, I see cop cars idling all the time, and that must surely hurt the environment, to say nothing of the waste of money. Do they really think that having the engine running is going to make the difference when they're suddenly required to engage in a high-speed pursuit? Do they not know about the halfway turn you can do with the car key to listen to the radio with the engine off? Also, while I am asking questions about cops that no one will answer, why do all unmarked state troopers' license plates end with UTZ? (They really do. Look, I took a picture of one:)

Unmarked Connecticut Trooper

Is this post aimless enough yet? Well, let me add this: I really need a nap. Read more!

Cherry cherry

We're not DC, but we've got some pretty blossoms of our own in Bushnell Park:




Also, never buy anything from wheelworld.com. I tried buying a bottom bracket and jersey from them, but they screwed up my address. I tried numerous times to resolve the problem to no avail. They even went so far to say mendaciously that they refunded my credit card. I disputed the charges and still haven't got the full amount back. Argh! Read more!

Bike to Work

The weather is finally breaking and the infernal wind seems to actually be cooperating this week. I know the event is mentioned on our side rolling board, but I figured a special upfront reminder was a good idea.

This Friday, 7-9 am, on the lawn at the Old State House. Bagels, bananas, coffee and oj provided by CCBA. Would love to see you all there. Read more!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Still waiting for Hans Rey's response

Everyone everywhere has been talking about this, so in case you haven't seen it yet:

Read more!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The most unrelated yet

As an avowed Northeast liberal, I subscribe to Harper's Magazine. Generally, the stories are about places far away from here, because central Connecticut is boring. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I turned to page 26 to see that the transcript of Judge E. Curtissa Cofield's bizarre October arrest graced the pages. Looks like Glastonbury has ignominiously made the intellectual big time.

Unrelated, but now bike related, I have seen with my own eyes that the Salmon Brook bridge on the Farmington Valley Greenway is almost complete, save for the railings. You can now ride from Unionville to Congamond and barely touch a road.

Read more!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A year

It slipped right by us and we didn't even notice (or have a party): the beat bike blog turned 1 year old last Friday. I could say that we've come a long way, but we're pretty much same the same as when we started.

Also check this from dead eye dave in New Haven:

The Valley
Kitten Race - May 2nd - New Haven CT
The Valley Kitten is 40+ miles of city and rural roads, hills and dirty
valley riding. A race to remind you how out of shape you let yourself
get this winter(fatty), a race to raise the bar for all other races
this season. Bloody knuckles , bruises and traffic violations are just the beginning, this race will give you bragging right for years to come . . .


Meet time is Noon/noon:30 at that big flag pole/water fouantain on the New Haven green (Elm st at Church st)
!!!!!THE RACE STARTS AT 1PM SHARP!!!!!! $5 entry fee**



PRIZES INCLUDE: $200 gift certificate and t-shirts from Lucky Soul Tattoo, a "small" size backpack and Hipsters from A.Able Bags(see website for images), shirts and water bottles from Viva La Bici and a bunch more awesomely random stuff. . .

sponsors include :
Lucky Soul Tattoo - luckysoultattoo​.​com

A.Able Bags - a-​able.​blogspot.​com

Devils Gear Bikes - thedevilsgear.​com

Viva La Bici Clothing - vivalabici.com

Piece By Piece Documentary - piecebypiecemovie.com
XOXO,
Dead Eye Dave



**All riders welcomed!!**


http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=da8aa1458d&view=att&th=120b2ed910591ca6&attid=0.1&disp=inline&zw
Read more!

A Ride to Honor Train Travel, Past and Future

Click for a larger view
Here's a picture of some old train cars on a track. You can click on the picture and see a larger version.

If you read the newspapers, you know that my American counterpart, El Presidente de los Estados Unidos, has lately stated his intention to hasten the nation's conversion to a European socialist welfare state via the construction of high-speed rail lines all over the place (including "northern New England," which might mean New Haven to Springfield rather than Boston to Bangor (not that I have anything but love for Bangor, 'cause, truly love is what I have for that fine burg and for Bath, Portland, and all those other nice spots; I'm just saying, I want good rail service from New Haven to Springfield)). If you read random posters at the Meriden Amtrak station, you also know that May 9 is National Train Day, an event invented, as best I can tell, by Amtrak (which may explain why it's on a Saturday: Amtrak has proved totally useless when it comes to commuter train service).

As both of our loyal readers know, I frequently take the train in commuting to Bridgeport, and am a train enthusiast. Something I've noticed about train tracks, at least here in the Nutmeg State, is that there are many interesting things to be seen alongside them - things you don't see beside roads. These range from odd, inexplicable pieces of abandoned machinery to sweeping vistas ("vista" is Spanish for "view of something other than crisscrossing highways and strip malls") to weathered old buildings that hearken to Connecticut's proud industrial past (and proud graffiti-writing present). I catch glimpses of all this from the train, but I don't get to savor it and take pictures of it the way I could if I were on foot. Therefore, in recognition of National Train Day and in support of our President's pro-train statements, I would like to remedy this problem and travel along the rails at a more stately pace. One way would be to get one of those awesome rail-bikes or the kind of train car that goes by having two people pump up and down on the see-saw thing. Unfortunately, I don't have the resources for either of those. Another option would be to take a walk along some tracks.



Now, not only have I seen the Stand By Me train bridge scene (above, in which the kids walk across a train bridge to save time in their trip, only to have the train come, forcing them to run and jump and be scared and almost get hit by the train), I've also been on an actual train that actually hit and killed someone (in Washington state about 20 years ago), so I'm cognizant of the key problem with walks along train tracks: trains. (Although, truth be told, I don't quite understand how people walking on train tracks in locations other than narrow bridges get hit; it's not like the train swerves to hit them.) So if I'm going to live out this dream, it has to be on tracks where trains don't go. Luckily, Connecticut is replete with unused tracks!

So here's my idea: Ride bikes from Hartford to Middletown. Middletown has train tracks running parallel to the Connecticut river that get little or no use. Walk north along these tracks, back to Hartford (while walking bikes). Take pictures. Pack a lunch and have a picnic along the way. Generally enjoy springtime. I'm thinking May 16 or 17 would be good for this. (Why not May 9? Because I have a friend in town from Seattle that weekend and I don't know if he's up for 30+ miles of biking and walking.) Is anyone out there interested? Read more!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Many waters

Remember how I was talking about the river being flooded? It isn't any more, but I don't even have to go near it anymore to find out. Check this thing out on the USGS website that friend of the blog, Jason, showed me.

Also, check out this email (with cool clip art) I got from some guy named Brendan:

Hello,
Spring has sprung and it's time to clean up the winter's scattered refuse. The Office of Councilperson Luis Cotto and the Trinity College Environmental Club are teaming up to work on a very visble, but often forgotten tract of land: the area near Flatbush Ave on/off ramp. We're doing this as part of Great American Cleanup, which is undertaken in Hartford by Knox Parks. It should be fun. Afterwards, we'll go get something to eat. We'll be cleaning from 11am to 2pm. You can park in the Walmart plaza parking lot or along Brookfield Street.
Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Respectfully,
Brendan Mahoney
Executive Assistant to Councilperson Luis E Cotto
550 Main Street rm 208
Hartford, CT
860 757 9568
ps. You're either receiving this because you're associated with the PHH list or the Hartford City Council's Public Works, Parks and Environment committee distribution list.

Read more!

Wednseday

I am house/baby sitting this week for my parents, so I'm riding from Avon to Hartford. 10 miles is a nice length.

Also, your favorite Cat 3 (it's not called beginner anymore, which i think is great) racer won some socks last weekend at Hopbrook Dam. Check out the hot action and my tights:



I also finally met Mark, from cyclesnack. He was doing some damage with his singlespeed. I needed my gears. Read more!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mad

We, as bike people, are supposed to get mad about this.

Michigan State may have beaten my alma mater at men's basketball, but it appears they're really churning out some idiot students these days. Read more!

Flood

In case you were wondering if the Connecticut was still flooded, it is. It crested and is receding now.

See?



I suppose picture number 1 is the only real clue of flooding. Read more!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

beatbikeblog critical infrastructure and key facilities

Behind the scenes at the beatbikeblog, we have been collaborating on a custom map. It is a work-in-progress, so if you have any suggestions for features to be included, post a comment or email us over in the sidebar at whatwhat? get at us!


Here is the map: beatbikeblog critical infrastructure and key facilities



View BeatBikeBlog Critical Infrastructure and Key Facilites in a larger map Read more!

Monday, April 6, 2009

What happened?

Dear reader, it's been some time since that nonsensical post about fish and parties last week, so you're probably assuming that one of those things claimed my life or caused me to quit this blog. Nope. In fact, I was doing lots of cool things and now I'm going to tell you about them.

Thursday was this:



People were drinking & dancing at City Hall!

On Friday, nothing really happened besides eating some Vietnamese food at the Vietnam Restaurant. Best bĂșn around!

I also walked home from work in the rain on Friday and considered the necessity of Green Infrastructure in Hartford.

On Saturday, I went to Penwood with my newly rigid Stumpjumper and I found this (which I did not drink, because Mike's Hard Lemonade is nasty, not because I found it in the woods):


And, it caused my rear tire to go flat shortly after I took this picture.


The evening led to some more dancing courtesy of that Bacchanalian HartBeat Ensemble.



On Sunday, I went to Cockaponset and it wasn't all I hope it would be. Most of the trails were kind of overgrown. This description was a little hyperbolic if you ask me.


This above trail was kickass, but I'm not altogether sure if I was allowed to ride on it. There were bike tire tracks, but that's often a meaningless measure of the rules. I apologize if I screwed up and rode on a "no bike" trail. I know you aren't allowed on the blue blaze here, but this was blue & red and I know you were allowed on the red. There weren't any of those CT Forest & Park Association "NO BIKES" diamonds on it, though.


There was also this weird moonscpaed fireroad where it looked like they had done some logging.

I ate this bowl of soup, too:

Read more!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Concerning School Buses, and the Rules Particular to Them

When I lived in Somerville, Mass., I commuted by bicycle fifteen minutes to Cambridge (technically, a Somerville-to-Cambridge commute could be accomplished in under a second, but from my house to my work was fifteen minutes). Along this route, almost without fail, I got stuck behind a school bus discharging its precious cargo (kids). Why was I stuck when I was on a bike, you ask, and thus able to maneuver in traffic as agilely as a koi navigates a putrescent pond? Because when school buses discharge kids, a stop sign extends from the left side of them, forbidding cars from passing in either direction. I assume this is a hedge against children's propensity to dart into traffic, and it is sensible, but I always felt it wouldn't be so bad if I just inched forward while astride my bike until I had passed the youths and could resume my usual high rate of speed. Unfortunately, the spot where this always happened (in front of the King Open School in Cambridge, if you must know) was presided over by one of those neighborhood-mayor-type crossing guards, and she once scolded me when I tried to creep past, so I made a habit of waiting and chatting with her. I have always been unclear, though, on precisely the extent of the no-movement-around-school-buses-discharging-kids rule. To wit, I was driving a car in the North End not long ago, on Capen Street, I think, and I came to a four-way stop, where I brought my vehicle to a complete stop and checked for pedestrians and crossing traffic. Stopped about fifteen feet before the stop sign to my left was a school bus, with special bus-side stop sign extended and lights flashing. The children exiting this bus were entering some building right in front of the bus, not crossing the street in front of me, so after checking again, I proceeded across the intersection. This occasioned strenuous honking and angry gesturing from the school bus driver. Did I do wrong? Does it matter that I was driving and not on a bike? Will stiumulus package money fix this problem?


This diagram makes me think I did right, but I never count out the possibility that I have failed to notice something that proves I am in the wrong. Read more!