So, the 5K at Keney was too hard to execute during the budget season, so it's been reimagined into a car-free day at Keney from 10 to 2. Yay!.
Also, CT-NEMBA is sponsoring a trail work day at Riverside Park on June 6 ahead of the cyclocross race. Way ahead of the cyclocross race. Read more!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
I'm not going to lie: I don't like ATVs. As a mountain biker and periodic hiker, I don't see the need for a engine to get through the woods. They also ruin parks in my city, race dangerously down the street and tear up trails in the woods. Often, other people and I think that if they had their park, they wouldn't abuse and destroy trails and parks where they don't belong.
So, yesterday as I rode past the Connecticut River Motorcross Park, I was thinking to myself about how it must be nice how ATVs and dirtbikes stay out of the nearby parks because they have their own park. Then, I entered a nearby park (Quarry Park) to find that the trails had all recently grown ruts because morons on ATVs were riding through the park.
Oh, also, you may recall that El Presidente had written about some kind of weird train/bike/walk thing that he wanted to do. I don't know what ever happened with that, but I have been exploring much of what his proposed route would be along the river. Last week, Salem (lover of Sun Tour and winner of The Eel) and Dario (Trinity professor and rider of a fixed gear Fat Chance) went north and I learned that there's a trail through Windsor Meadows State Park up to Loomis. I also learned about the crazy Hockanum River Park! And yesterday, I went south towards Cromwell and discovered the very boring Bukley Park in Rocky Hill.
Here are some pictures:
I also signed up for the D2R2 today. Read more!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Connecticut River in Hartford is a subject in many of our posts, and we spend a lot of time down along the banks of the silty, sandy Connecticut.
Brendan is hosting a 'cross race down at Riverside Park in October, 2009. Last fall, he hosted The Eel down along the river, and this spring, he hosted The Eel 2. Ken frequently takes quick rides late at night to "kiss the river". Last year, we hit as many bridges as possible on one ride. El Presidente de China has praised the railroad bridge north of the Bulkeley Bridge. I frequently use the push-up spot between the Bulkeley and Founder's Bridges, on the East Hartford side of the river. I went swimming on the East Hartford side on a ride that was documented last year. We also occasionally met up below the Founder's Bridge before critical mass rides last year. Also, I distinctly remember Vasudeva the ferryman from Siddhartha, but that was in India.
Many of these events and experiences have happened between the dikes. At one point the dikes didn't exist. Would we have the same bicycling and bridge resources we do now if the dikes hadn't been built?
The Connecticut State Library has 132 aerial photos taken shortly after the Hurricane of 1938 had passed. These photos are incredible. I suggest you go look at them and see how different the city looked up to its neck in water and without dikes.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Because sometimes we have to reflect on the sad things, tonight is the Ride of Silence. We're meeting at the Elizabeth Park Pond House and setting off at 7.
Also, Real Art Ways is unveiling a bunch of public art on Saturday. My friends Joel, not the beat bike blogging one, and Dave put up a lot of the art. This blog got a press release from Abby at RAW because they're doing a bike tour.
Wanted to let you know that we are offering free guided bike tours of our public art exhibitions in Hartford’s Parkville and Frog Hollow neighborhoods on Saturday, May 30, at 3 and 4 PM. They leave from Real Art Ways 56 arbor street, Hartford.
There’s also a free reception for the projects from 2 – 5 PM at Real Art Ways.
I’ve attached press release, but here’s a quick run-down of what the projects will be.
The Four Projects:
- Margarida Correia’s photographs of Hartford youth embracing their Portuguese heritage will be on billboards in Parkville. Street lamps on Park Street will display album covers of famous Fado singers, with an accompanying audio component.
- Satch Hoyt is building a labyrinth in Frog Hollow’s Pope Park, out of clotheslines. The labyrinth addresses the migratory voyages of the residents who reside in the neighborhood.
- Sofia Maldonado is creating a mural on the Pelican Tattoo building in Frog Hollow. She’ll also be organizing collaborations with youth in the neighborhoods.
- Matthew Rodriguez will install 70 characters on trees in Pope Park, and one on the side of La Estrella bakery in Parkville.
I just called the number and it doesn't seem to have any tour guiding powers yet, hopefully it'll work by Saturday.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Oh. My. God. I have found the next hot thing, or at least the next thing that I really really want. Awesomeness, thy name is Trikezilla: Adult-sized, fixed-gear, chunky-tired tricycle of death. Or, as their ad on craigslist succinctly puts it, "ADULT TRIKE FOR FAT PEOPLE." Words don't do this justice, people, so feast your eyes on the hotness:
I am not playing here. I want one badly. Trikezilla people, get in touch. You send me the complementary prototype and I will be your man on the east coast. I will move merchandise, do you understand me? I will put you on the map. Your ish is where it's at, and I want in. Also, this:
Friday, May 15, 2009
As the images above show, there is a correlation between the decline in the quality of train travel in America and the decline is sartorial awesomeness of Don Cornelius, the host of Soul Train.
There is a fascinating piece in Slate today about how trains in this country have regressed since the 1920s, in the sense that they are slower now and the service is less reliable (and no barbers on board). I know that I am letting the terrorists win when I say this, but WHY, WHY ARE WE SO INTO CARS AND SUBURBS AND LEAFBLOWERS (seriously, have you ever raked leaves? It is a nice activity, especially on a crisp Fall day)?!!! Read the Slate article. It is interesting. Then come back here and read the rest of this post.
(Our loyal reader knows that I'm always on some train ish, so let me warm to the topic a little bit:)
Here is my question: What with how most airlines are not profitable and the seats are uncomfortable and flying is the least fuel-efficient way (other than actually drinking gasoline while riding a diesel-powered mule) to go anywhere and most airports are about as convenient to business districts as, say, Windsor Locks is to Hartford, and now that everything is all interconnected with computers and satellites and blackberries and laptops and space lasers, why can't train travel become the choice for business? I mean, I know that people in the northeast corridor like to take Acela, but other than that train travel is only for tourism and me. There's no reason that a business trip from Hartford to Chicago or Georgia couldn't happen by train. I mean, sure, you'd have to leave earlier, but if you carried your computer and if Amtrak could figure out how to get wi-fi to work on their trains (right now there's wi-fi but it's not connected to the internets; good work, losers), people could just be working during that time (and also seeing this great nation of ours, drinking and playing cards with rough characters in the evenings, having whirlwind romances, and solving mysteries; even a cross-country flight doesn't afford time for all that).
Train travel for business would reduce congestion at airports, it would use less fuel, and it would reintroduce romance and mystery to our lives as a society. I mean, train travel has given us some of the greatest cinematic rides of all time, like Strangers on a Train, The Lady Vanishes, The Station Agent, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (among many many others). Commercial airlines, by contrast, have given us tawdry, explosion-saturated schlock like Air Force One, Con Air, and Passenger 57 (although that part where Wesley Snipes is on the plane phone with the terrorist who is somewhere else on the plane and he asks him if he's ever played roulette and the terrorist is like, yeah, why, and Snipes is like, "Always bet on black" is awesome, because up until that point, the fact that the terrorist was white and Snipes was black seemed sort of tangential - if anything, it seemed a lot more important that the bad guy was foreign and Snipes was American - but suddenly, BAM, there's a weird racial element in the movie, one that basically doesn't resurface at all; I always supposed that one of the screenwriters had been saving up that line and just couldn't find anywhere else to use it (I bet it was Dan Gordon - he worked on Highway to Heaven during the 80s, and you can bet Michael Landon never would have said anything like that (except maybe during the episode where Rudy Ray Moore guest-starred (quadruple parentheses!))).) (I will concede that Airplane is a spectacular movie, but that's mostly because it makes fun of airlines.) Plane travel is all bland, corporatized utility that leaves you feeling dirty and grumpy, while train travel is personal, uplifting, literary. And with all this tricknology, we wouldn't have to sacrifice our vaunted hard-working, family-ignoring, money-worshipping efficiency for the aesthetic advantages of rail. In fact, by turning a weekend-long business trip by air into a week-long rail sojourn, you give workers that much more time when they're unable to do anything but work and be apart from their loved ones, so it's a win-win. Also, it's way easier to bring your bike on a train than on a plane, and a lot easier to ride your bike to and from the train station than the airport.
Now can some rational person explain to me why no company will ever start using railroads for all its business travel? (I realize there's a chicken-and-egg problem here, in the sense that passenger rail service has become shitty because of the rise of automobiles and interstates, and now it is not cost-effective, so companies won't do it, but until companies do it, it will never be cost-effective, but I'm hoping some economic genius will tell me there's some other, soluble problem, so that we can all join together, solve that problem, and sort the rest out with oodles of federal stimulus money.) Read more!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
"Cell Phone Exchange," by Flickr user Thomas Hawk. Some rights reserved.
A long while ago, I had the idea that we could get more people to ride their bikes to work if we sort of held their hands along the way. Not literally, because holding hands while riding bikes, although romantic, is dangerous, but in the sense of helping these would-be commuters to get over the mental and spiritual inertia that makes their feet carry their bodies in to their cars when their souls are clamoring for the rushing wind, the chirping birds, and all of the other happy things that come with bike riding. Since having that idea, I have not taken any concrete steps to make it a reality, largely because I don't really have time and, as best I can tell, there's no money in it (C.R.E.A.M.). Then, two days ago, I missed the 5:15 p.m. train from New Haven to Hartford, causing me to have to wait for the 7:20 train, which didn't leave till 7:40 because it was waiting for the delayed train from New York. And you know how they say that when God closes a door, he leaves the key under the mat or something like that? Well, that proved true in the case of my two-hour delay, as it brought me into contact with someone who re-inspired me to launch my adopt-a-bike-commuter program.
(As an aside, goddamn it, Amtrak! I got to Union Station in New Haven at 5:05, which should have been plenty of time to get a ticket from the automated machine and get on the train. But of course, the machine couldn't read my credit card, and it didn't just tell me that, it had me swipe my card, go through the whole process of picking a train, then asked me to swipe again. After having this happen on two machines (which was especially annoying since my card worked fine earlier in the day and again later), I went to the actual human being at the ticket window, whom I assumed immediately would be nice, because he looked like Allen Arkin (by the way, if you do a Google image search for Allen Arking, make sure Google Safe Search is on, because if not, the second page of search results will contain an image that will (a) make you wonder whether Google has gone crazy or whether you accidentally typed "vagina" and (b) not be appropriate for work), and it turned out that he was a big pain in the ass because he kept telling me about how I can't bring my bike on the train and I'm having to tell him that I take it on the train all the time because it folds and he's asking me am I sure, and meanwhile precious time is ticking away, and when I finally get the guy to take my damn credit card, he's like, "You're not gonna catch that train," and he was right, 'cause the damn thing left two minutes early, right as he was saying that. But I digress.)
So on the 7:20 train, I ended up sitting next to a very nice lady who is a paralegal at an insurance company in Hartford, and we were talking about bicycles, and she was saying how she wants to ride her bike to work because it's only seven miles and she's a strong cyclist and they have showers at her work, but she can never quite motivate because of the traffic and the planning and all of that. And I thought, "This is the perfect case for the Beat Bike Blog Adopt-A-Bike-Commuter Program!"
It didn't seem right to tell this lady, "You know, I'll happily come to your house early in the morning and ride with you to Hartford," because, well, that's a little creepy, but later in the conversation, we discovered we have an acquaintance in common (one of my co-workers organizes a volunteer event that the lady helps to coordinate), so I know I could get in touch with her in a non-creepy way (i.e., through a professional connection), and I learned that she lives in Wethersfield, where a bike-riding pal of mine commutes from every day, and it all started to come together.
So, beat bike bloggers and fellow travelers: How shall we set this up? If you were a fifty-ish lady being approached by bike nerds, what tactic would most appeal to you and make you feel welcomed warmly into the bike-commuting community without undue pressure, weirdness, etc.? Read more!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Every blog post deserves a picture, even if it's not so germane to the content of the post.
As I often report in this space, I live a multi-modal life: Trains, bummed rides, bicycle, etc. Since the demise of my car, I have managed to make this work fairly well, but sometimes I have to rent a car, since one of my co-workers very selfishly had a baby and took maternity leave, forcing me to handle her Hartford cases in addition to my Bridgeport and New Haven cases. Sometimes, I just have to get from one place to another more quickly than the sporadic and frequently late Amtrak train can get me there.
Sometimes, car rental is a dream, because it can be had for $14/day on priceline. But sometimes, like today, the only cars anywhere are $40/day. That's a drag, but I do get reimbursed for mileage, so I don't end up coming out of pocket for that much, and since I only rent a car, at most, once a week, it's cheaper than insurance + maintenance + the cost of getting a car.
But here's the rub about car rental: The few rental places near me in West Hartford and Hartford only sometimes have the cheapest prices. Oftener, I must go to the airport (which is a nice bike ride, but not the most convenient) or to some other location, like today, when I rented a car from a place on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington. Also, aside from the airport locations, most car rental places open at 8:30 and close by 5:30, which makes it nearly impossible for me to get to Bridgeport by 9:00 or get the car the night before I need it.
All of which makes this nation turn its lonely eyes to Zipcar. Zipcar, you may have heard, is the service where for $50 a year, you get access to some cars in your area (provided you live near, say, Trinity, which I do) whenever they're available, at an hourly rate. On the positive side, it seems like you can pretty much pick up a zipcar whenever, 'cause you make a reservation online and then use some kind of crazy space-age technology to swipe a card and get the car, so on those occasions when I miss the train or miss my ride or suddenly find that I have to get to Middletown with a quickness to collect a vomiting child, I could just go. On the down side, it's $8 an hour or $65 a day, which is, you know, more than $40, even though gas is included.
So the question is, should I spring for the $25 application fee and $50 yearly membership? It would be nice to have access to cars on short notice, even at a slightly premium rate. But maybe if I'm dropping $65 a week, I should just bite the bullet and get a car (or move to a utopian, car-free German suburb).
What say you, beat bike blog reader? Zipcar? Rental car? Car car? I always make my most important financial and life decisions on the basis of what the internet tells me (even though investing my 401k money in penis enlargement pills didn't pay off).
P.S.: Dear Zipcar, if you want to give me some kind of sweet reduced price deal so I can sing your praises on this blog (a la Xootr), holler at me. I ain't proud. Read more!
There's a rally today at the Capitol for bikes (don't know about the riders) from 12:15 to 1:15. It's in support of SB 735, an improving bicycle and pedestrian access. I had originally wanted to go ride my bike during lunch because the weather is so nice, but I'll probably end up going to the Capitol and yelling.
Here's a link to the flyer.
I went and here are some pictures (in case you're wondering what bike activists look like):
I didn't stay for the speakers, because I had a meeting at 1. Read more!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In the post below this one, Brendan asks whether planned, suburban, German-engineered carlessness is everything its cracked up to be. (I know, you can't tell from the post, but follow the links - they're interesting). I don't know much about German suburbs, but I will tell you this: My own experiment in carlessness is proving alternately delightful and collossally annoying.
To begin with, I didn't sell my car for the privilege of moving to a smart-growth-designed Teutonic suburb where the swish of bicycles and the laughter of cherubic aryans drowns out the distant growl of BMWs powered by the ground-up bones of orphans. I actually abandoned happy, bike-centric, urban living in Somerville, Mass., for the cartastic burg of West Hartford, where I actually purchased a second car. Unfortunately, the first car gave up the ghost, and the third car (purchased to replace the first) turned out to be a disaster of the sort that now sits immobile on my driveway (I'm thinking of taking the wheels off and putting it up on blocks just to spite the neighbors; that might get them even more exercised than when I have black houseguests). So now I am out of car money and obliged to figure out ways to get from here to there (by which I mean Hartford to Bridgeport).
Yesterday, this situation proved craptastic: Between child's doctor's appointment, other child's having to get to daycare, and wife's having to get to work, I only worked four hours of my workday and spent the rest shuttling people around (but don't worry, boss-who-surely-isn't-reading-this: I made up for it by working from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.). And today, it looked like another pain in the ass: I missed catching a ride with my neighbor to Hamden, and needed to get to New Haven with enough time to get ready for a meeting at noon and a hearing at 1:00, but ma petite wife had to be in Cromwell at 9:15, and kids had to get dropped off (and of course, once you miss the 7:55 Amtrak to New Haven, you can't go again till 11:15). So the only solution was the bike.
I got dropped off at the Middletown-Durham line and headed south on Route 17 for a solid twenty-mile jaunt, dreading the time it would take me, the sweaty mess I would become, and the foolish moment in which I plunked down $1800 for that stupid Ford Focus. But you know what? It was awesome. Know why? Because between Middletown and New Haven is a handsome little swath of real-life rural America - with cows, even. And you know who drives there at 8:30 in the morning? Nobody! So it was me, the chirping birds, the lush greenery of springtime, and even some rabbits (so it was pretty much like Bambi without the hunters, the fire, and the annoying other deer that tries to steal Bambi's girlfriend). I rode at a reasonable but not strenuous pace, got to New Haven in about an hour and twenty minutes, and felt like a health champion.
Conclusion: Carlessness works really well in cities and in carefully planned German suburbs. In Connecticut, maybe not so much. However, it's still nice to ride a bike a lot, especially in the springtime, and (unrelatedly) there is nothing better than filing a motion that is so clever, well-researched, and unexpected that it makes the other lawyer totally lose her cool and start yelling at you. Also, this is Bike Week, so hooray! Read more!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Once, awhile ago, I was supposed to see Belle & Sebastian in Northampton with this friend of mine. We bought tickets about a month in advance. As the concert approached, my friend was convinced (even thought I had checked the tickets and disagreed) that the concert was on Saturday. She remained convinced and was also the driver. So, we went on Saturday. After some pregaming with a bottle of Bailey's (you take what you can get when you're 20) in an empty parking lot, we walked over to the Calvin theater. To find it completely dark. Belle & Sebastian have never returned.
On Thursday, I realized that the Orchard Assault was at UMass today. I decided it'd be a good chance to finally race on my singlespeed. The online pre-reg was over, so I'd have to pay in person. Generally, the Cat 2 singlespeed open class races at 2. I decided that must be the case for this race, too. My girlfriend, Johanna the great, asked me repeatedly if I was sure of this, since I had forwarded her a link to the race flyer on Thursday which had information to the contrary. Around 10:15 this morning, I checked the website to discover that the Cat 2 singlespeed open race had started at 10:00. So, I went for a nice road ride instead. (Which didn't cost me any money!)
I also broke my brake lever yesterday, so this meant that I didn't have to take any steps to fix it today.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Pull Up the People is an online radio show with accompanying playlists. I found them when they linked to me (for what I don't know). But they did an all-bicycle media post.
The lists on the site is worth checking out.
They say the Triplets of Belleville is the fourth best bicycle movie of all time. I'm not sure about that.
But, I loved the part where they used the grenades to hunt frogs.
As Brendan mentioned, your humble beatbikeblog has turned a year old! While we have somehow just fallen short of claiming the "Best Blog" honor as a rookie in the Hartford Advocate's "Best of Hartford 2009" issue (Really?? Noted beauty pageant judge Perez Hilton got more votes than us as the best blog?? Where's the local love, Advocate voters?), the comments demanding a celebration have been nothing but overwhelming. Good news! We have listened to ourselves commenting and have decided that holding a BBB Pub Crawl is the perfect way to mark this blessed occasion. And you, our reader and savvy bicyclist, are invited to join us on Saturday night, May 9th. You don't even have to celebrate our birthday...there are lots of things you can choose to celebrate instead:
1) Nueve de Mayo: For people who took too long of a siesta and missed Cinco.
2) Mother's Day Eve: air out all your best mother jokes from the past year
3) The unofficial, irreverent kickoff to Bike Week
4) Springy-Sproing: Warm weather has returned!
5) Ghostface Killah's birthday
6) Just being alive and free on two wheels in the Beat.
So Saturday May 9th, we're hitting places with outdoor seating. We'll be meeting up at Dulce in downtown Hartford around 7pm. From there, we'll head over to Hook & Ladder on Main St. at 8 pm. Then we'll make a nice ride through the city over to Plan B on Park St. in West Hartford and aim to arrive at 9:30. The crawl will finish up at Kenny's on Capitol Ave. starting around 11:30. There are loads of good food and beverage options at each stop.
Hope to see you there.
Monday, May 4, 2009
The league of american cyclists bike week is next week (May 11-15) and there is a ton of stuff going on in and around the beat, check out the schedule of events:
May 11, 630-830 AM Bike to Work, Farmington, UConn Health Center across from the Hellipad (Raindate = Wednesday, May 13, Same time and location)
May 12 (Tuesday) 5:30 PM, Bike to Supper, Wooden Tap, 99 Sisson Ave. Hartford (Corner of Capitol Ave.). RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get a head count. Bring a good lock in case we end up eating indoors. If you want to ride in from downtown Hartford, meet at the Bushnell Park Carousel between 5-5:15.
May 12 (Tuesday), 630-9 AM Bike to Work, Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, HealthTime® Employee Wellness at P&W Medical, Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness and HealthyGears will sponsor the event.
May 13, 2009, Wednesday, 12:15 to 1:15 PM: Bike Rallyat the Capitol: Join with your friends and fellow cyclists on the eastside of the Capitol. Bike over, walk over, but be sure to help us to showour numbers! Several legislators will be invited to speak (at 1PM). We will want to demonstrate to them the importance of CompleteStreets OR thank them for passing the Complete Streets Bill.
May 15 (Friday), 7-9 AM - Bike to Work, Old State House, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection will Sponsor the event
May 15 (Friday), 5-7 PM - Bike Week Happy Hour, Corner Pug in West Hartford
Come one, come all!!! These events are open to any cyclist in the area. Great chance to meet fellow velocipede enthusiasts and get some free food, drink and other goodies.
Also, tomorrow night is our Bike Everywhere Committee meeting at Lenas in Hartford, 6 pm. if you have ideas or just want to know what is going on come on out. Read more!
seems like this could be an annual post for the beat. three of us headed down from hartford this weekend to new york for the bike new york ride. very fun. we joined 36000 of our closest friends on a tour of all five boroughs (only seven blocks in the bronx = ripoff on that one!).
several tips for would be riders:
1. don't show up early in battery park. hook up with the front end of the ride at central park or, like we did, on the lower east side after a very good breakfast after a decent non standing around waiting for a ride to start wakeup time. we had no problem hooking up and stayed at the front all the way through, smooth sailing.
2. skip the first couple rest stops, they are way to crazy busy.
3. bring warm, waterproof clothes.
4. take pics.
5. check out your bike before you ride, while blowouts sound cool, they cause very not awesome multi cyclist wrecks...... none of us got involved in those though.
although the suck factor increased as the ride went on, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and the rain started to pour it was all in all a very fun experience. at the end we even got to know what refugees must feel like, check out these pics on the staten island ferry:
bring me your poor, your tired, your huddled frozen wet cyclists:
definitely worth it and if it were a nice day it would be incredible on staten island for the festival and the ferry ride with views. even cold it was really awesome to see new york by bike with no cars...
of course we did follow up the ride with harrowing high speed dash through all of lower manhattan with one wreck (bike versus big hole, hole wins, ben lands on hip, says ow....) but no one or bike hurt! Read more!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I just got back from a pleasant, though sort of wet, ride To see if I had missed any important news while I was gone, I went to courant.com and was greeted with this headline: "Bicycle Fall Leads To Drug Arrest In Bristol." It seems that a concerned citizen called the police because it looked like a man had fallen off of his bicycle. The police came and found that he had a bunch of heroin. The article doesn't explain how they ended up searching him even though the call was because of the fall, though it does say that he was asleep when the cops came.
Anyway, remember that not all people on bikes are drug mules. Read more!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Dear internet, I have a question. On the road, tire pressure is easy. It says on the side of the tire what you pressure you need. Off the road, not as easy. Tires give a ball park, but that's it. It's there some kind of formula you can calculate with your weight? I don't like getting pinch flats, but I like to maintain control and not slide out on rocks. I weigh 150lbs and usually have about 25 or 27 lbs of bike under me. At present, I ride on the high pressure side, but it's pretty unforgiving. I know this is a rookie question, but I've never quire figured out the sweet spot for places with rocks, especially when I ride rigid.
Happy May Day! Read more!