Friday, July 31, 2009


That was a lot of rain today. Also, that picture was not taken in Connecticut. Read more!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is making the rounds right now

And it's awesome!

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Big hill & Vietnamese food

One thing that I forgot to mention about my trip to Vermont was the big hill I rode up, Burke Mountain. It's really big! Like 3270'! We don't have anything that high in Connecticut. And, unlike that wussy hill climb race they have (just kidding), I climbed half of it on the nasty & unimproved Civilian Conservation Corps Road out of Kirby. Well, anyway, it's not that big of an accomplishment, but I highly recommend it. It has a really pretty view from the observation tower. So, does Monadnock Mountain in Essex County. However, you cannot ride your bike up Monadnock Mountain. Also, if you've never been to this site, you really ought to.

Riding down the mucky Kingdom Trails singletrack of Dead Moose Alley and Moose Alley and all that stuff was also pretty cool. In my opinion, the trail network on Darling Hill is pretty cool in its buff-ness and twistiness, but the Burke Mountain trails are so much longer, tiring and better.

This is the view from Monadnock's fire tower:

I find it weird that two of New England's monadnocks are simply named Mt. Monadnock or Monadnock Mountain. The drumlins of the region aren't all called drumlin. Other places are able to think up more creative names.

Also, the new Vietnamese place, Hiep Phat Vietnamese Fast Food, on Park Street at Dorothy Street is really good. I highly recommend it. Very authentic, or at least, it seems authentic to a guy named Brendan Mahoney.

*I stole that Burke picture from

ps. Sorry for subjecting y'all to my crappy attempt at a narrative about riding at Kingdom Trails.
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economics + fancy helmets = pretentious. But we can at least link to Prez's old posts like they're Seinfeld reruns.

I'll tell you what, this may be chi-chi and it is definitely expensive but it's the kind of thing I've been thinking about lately.

I'll act like an economist here. On the one hand, they are expensive. On the other hand, maybe if more people wore these helmets, rode in regular clothes, and rode at a stately pace, more people would ride bicycles. That is, if the marginal benefit of one more person wearing these helmets is an increase in bicycle-miles ridden valued at 100 dollars, and the real cost of producing one of these helmets is less than 100 dollars, then buying one and wearing it would be a socially optimal choice... I think.

Funny, I just found this old post from Matt Yglesias. I can't believe he and all those commenters beat me to! It's a good comment thread about helmets. Read more!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not dead yet

While I'm glum that Josh is no longer writing in these parts and that we're got some personal turmoil floating about, I'm not going to let that derail the blog. My guess is that our few readers were here to read about (greater) Hartford & bikes not other, more dramatic things.

So, I'm going to write a bit about some bike stuff.

First, I met with Art & Jason last night about our plan of attack for Hartford 'Cross in October. I think we're in a good position to make a pretty awesome race. So, if you're part of some kind of something and want to do some sponsoring, shoot me an email at Otherwise, come and race or come and watch. You really should come, it's much easier to get to than that race in Maine.

Second, the D2R2 is in two weeks and I'm sort of terrified. I think that I'm in ok shape, but like, it's supposed to be the hardest ride in the world. It's like the Leadville 100 meets Alpe d'Heuz times 50. I've decided that I'm going to ride my rigid mountain bike with semi-slick 1.5"s on it. I don't know if that's a good decision of not. Maybe someone can counsel me. It's a light and comfortable bike with low gearing. That seems like a good choice, right?

Third, I'm doing my first Cat 2 race on Sunday at Hodges Dam. I'm making the jump from beginner racing to mediocre racing. I'm expecting a last place finish. I also haven't raced since two months ago at Winsted Woods, so I'm totally out of practice.

Fourth could have been about my vacation to Vermont and riding my bike, but I didn't take any pictures of it. No one wants to read my narrative about getting muddy at Kingdom Trails.

This is Still Hill Rd in Glover, VT. Imagine if you got to commute to work on this!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Au Revoir

Interpersonal feuds are rarely worth celebrating, let alone exposing to a wider audience, and blog-based feuds are almost always painfully presumptuous. However, a disagreement among the Beat Bike Bloggers has put me in the unfortunate position of having to quit this fine and worthy undertaking. Hereunder, a brief explanation.

You see, dear reader, we used to have a contributor named Rich. Some months back, Chillwill, our founder and Editor-at-Large, had a falling-out with Rich, over a personal matter wholly unrelated to the blog. At the time, Will sent Rich an e-mail expressing his anger and disappointment at Rich's transgression, and Rich denied that he had done this bad thing. Later, Will got some independent confirmation of said bad thing, and he and Rich pretty much ceased to be friends. Months later, while doing some administrative maintenance of this blog, Will recalled the offense and decided he simply didn't want to collaborate with someone who would betray his trust. So he removed Rich's posting privileges.

Will and Rich are both friends to me. I don't have any interest in the underlying facts of their dispute, although I certainly sympathize with both Will's feelings of betrayal and Rich's feelings of being wrongly accused. My feeling, though, is that none of it has anything to do with writing about riding bicycles in Hartford. I also feel that while the blog was Will's idea and he set it up, promoted it, and generally put much hard work into it, it belongs to all of us. (Not for nothing, but I've accounted for 29.7% of the posts to date, while Will has written only 15.3%).

I have put this matter to Will privately a number of times, telling him that the fair thing to do is restore Rich to posting privileges and put the matter to a vote of all the contributors. Most recently, a couple of weeks ago, I told him that I would quit if he didn't make this right. We talked today and he said he simply could not work on a shared endeavor with someone he feels has betrayed his friendship, that he didn't want to put the matter to a vote of the contributors (being justifiably concerned about needlessly airing personal matters), and that he would absolutely not resolve the problem by quitting the blog he founded (fair). So principle demands that I go. Oh well.

Thanks, dear readers, for your jolly comments and good advice. I think I'll start blogging at the New London Commercial Fishermen's Blog, which I started yesterday just so I would have a funny link in my last post. Come check me out over there, and keep riding your bikes!

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Showdown In Old Town recap

“I have two boats in dry dock, a busted longboard and a fuckin’ busted-ass bike.” Words spoken by Jonathon, the winner of the Summer Showdown in Old Town. Actually, RJ and Rydel arrived 5 or 10 minutes earlier, by they forgot stop #7, which was to pick up a free copy of the Blue Paper. Prolly about half the racers had to run back out of Cowboy Bill’s and around the block to the Parrot, the nearest spot to grab a copy of the weekly newspaper. Suckas! So due to this and that, the winning bicycle, a $20 cruiser, beat the roadies and the fixies!

17 people met up at the end of the White Street Pier for the island’s first alleycat race and all had a great time. We had a few DQ’s due to missed stops, but most everyone finished and got a prize. All racers got a water bottle from Fixed Gears and a koozie from Cowboy Bill's, who also hooked us up with $1 PBR’s all night. yeeee-haaaaaaw! Thanks again to Re-Cycle , Guy Harvey's Help Yourself , Conch Traders, Turtle Kraals and Bad Boy Buttitos who were super kind with donated prizes, thanks y’all! Miami Bike Scene also covered the race.

johnathon conch cruiser
pedi eddie conch cruiser but i should have had him as a roadie
rydel fixie
amy fixie
travis conch cruiser
george conch cruiser
matt conch cruiser

Instead of putting the manifests and maps into envelopes, they were tucked inside waterbottles donated by Fixed Gears, which was the start of the surprise coconuts and mangos checkpoint tasks. Instead of signing manifests, Ray was handing out coconuts to be delivered to a house on Olivia Street. Thanks to Randesh for the coconuts. You can find him at Help Yourself chopping them open with a machete for the delicious water inside. Help Yourself was also a stop and they made everyone do a shot of super cold juice!

Brian and Agnes worked the Olivia Street surprise stop, where conch cruisers got their manifest signed, but roadies had to take a freshly picked mango back to Fixed Gears to get a signature. I am not sure how many people realized the Bill Butler Park checkpoint was down a tiny alley only two houses away!

Maya kicked ass and rode off into the sunset on the steel (and cardboard) horse she rides. Inspired by the race, she actually made a horse for her bicycle. Well done! She worked the checkpoint on the stairs at the corner of Duval and Front and made the racers go and find a tourist and make them yell, “yeee-haaaawww!”

This is a crazy story. George, on the left thought he had DFL and realized he had lost his wallet while racing. He rushed out of Cowboy Bill’s to go look for it and Matt, on the right, showed up and stole DFL from him. Matt also had a wallet he found on the street; which turned out to be George’s wallet! Dang, this town is getting small…

This was the most fixie riders ever together on this tiny island….six of us! Amy, Amy, Patrick, ChillWill and on the far right; Peppermint Patti and Rydel who drove down from Miami for the race. Riding around Saturday night with everyone was awesome. We had road bikes, fixies, conch cruisers and even a Penny-Farthing

Click Read More for a basket full of more photos!

Patricia arrived at Turtle Kraals and climbed the stairs to the Tower Bar but could not find the checkpoint person. She borrowed a menu to prove she was there. Good thinking!

Yep, someone really raced a Penny-farther! Scott also builds custom chopper bikes. I’ll mos def get a post out soon with some of his work and contact info.

We gave Matt, DFL, this rope lock hoping his bike would get stolen and he could get a faster bike! Ironicaly, Jonothn, who came in 1st place, actually uses a rope to “lock up” his bike at racks. Really, he does it all the time. I love this town!

By the way, Matt was one of the out-of-towners, visiting from Ohio; not for the race…but on honeymoon with his beautiful wife! Congratulations! They were super cool, hope to see y’all when I’m visiting Columbus in August.

Robbie was making people, like Jason here, go down the slide at Bill Butler Park.

RJ, in between Peppermint Patti and ??, prolly could have been the winner if not for a bit of disorganization on by both of us. He arrived at Cowboy Bill’s with Rydel an out-of-towner from Miami following his wheel, and they could not find me. They got back on their bikes and pedaled all the way to Cowboy Bill’s Reloaded, a smaller sister bar towards the northern end of Duval and returned…still looking for me. I was taking photos at three checkpoints as fast as possible. They forgot to pick up the Blue Paper and while going out to get them, Jonathon and Eddie arrived, putting RJ and Rydel in 3rd and 4th.

Scott, on the left, is the rider of the Penny Farthington. I don’t remember what Peppermint Patti was showing me and Patrick is blurry and out of focus…as promised.

An adorable couple and their bicycle basket of mangos! Thanks again Brian and Agnes for helping out.

me and lou

Rydel killin' the wings! At some point at Finnegan’s Wake I wrote down a quote from PP, “I’m not surprised he has chicken in his tooth hole!”

Rydel and the King of the Wild West, Jonathon, who bought a round for everyone!

Peppermint Patti chillin'

these tats were da bomb!

peppermint patti hugging what may have been the inspiration for The Giving Tree infont of the house where Shel Silverstein lived.

david on the penny! It was a bit awkward at first, but I liked riding it. with a waaay bigger front wheel than a 29’r, curbs were nuttin’!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Did I Mention That Amtrak Sucks?

Time and time again I sing my song of hatred to Amtrak, the cruel tyrant of the rails. If you read the news, you know that Amtrak has lately taken its anti-transportation philosophy to a whole new level by preventing maritime movement with a stupid drawbridge that was stuck shut, obstructing movement between the (Mighty!) Niantic River and Long Island Sound. I could get into that more, but I'm sure is all over it. No, today I want to point out yet another dumb thing about the way Amtrak does ticketing: You can only get your tickets at the station.

I know that to our octogenarian readers, that seems like a silly complaint. "Where else would you buy your train tickets?!" they cry indignantly. "At the five and dime? What's next - will the WPA mandate that soda jerks, shoe shine boys, and trolleycar conductors sell train tickets as well, proving once and for all that Roosevelt is but a front for the dread Bolshevik, Eugene V. Debs?!! Phooey!" (That is how old folks talk, even when they are reading a blog.) But here's the thing: Amtrak has a website. On this website you can reserve tickets. But to get the tickets, you have to go to the station agent or to the ticket machine.

Why does this matter? Well, suppose, hypothetically, that you have to work late in Bridgeport, and you can't catch a Metro North train till 6:55, which puts you into New Haven at 7:23, and the train to Hartford leaves at 7:25. You have two minutes to go downstairs from the platform, walk to the main part of the station, go to a ticket machine, get your ticket, and return to another track to get on the train. If you could buy tickets online or on the the train (or even on the platform), this wouldn't be so tough. If you could buy a New Haven-to-Hartford ticket from an Amtrak ticket machine in Bridgeport, that would solve the problem. But you can't. So you're pretty much relegated to the 8:30 train.

Unless, by some stroke of luck, the Acela from Washington to Boston runs late, causing Amtrak to delay the regional train from New Haven to Hartford, in which case, our hypothetical traveler (who is actually me, yesterday), like all the fish in the Sound that avoided being caught because the boats that would catch them were stuck on the Niantic River, gets an unexpected reprieve born of Amtrak's incompetence. Read more!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Something I Don't Understand About Technology

So I was just looking at this post on the Wired website, which lists "Five iPhone Apps That Replace Bike Hardware" (sadly, none of them is a 15 mm box wrench, but whatever). One of the apps uses a microphone and a little plastic tab attached to a spoke to measure speed by timing the sounds that the tab makes when it hits the frame, using the wheel size, and doing maths. That's cool (if slightly too complex), but here's what I don't understand: The iPhone and iPod Touch have accelerometers in them, right? (Right.) Accelerometers, if their name is to be credited, measure acceleration. So if you have a device that measures acceleration, and it is programmed to presume a velocity of zero when you turn it on, can't it pretty much keep track of your speed? How come my Touch can't act as a speedometer just by being on, without the aid of jury-rigged craziness? Isn't that what this future technology is all about? And where is my flying car?!! Read more!

Commuter Racing

Bianca recently directed my attention to the Brompton World Championships, a bicycle race held in England yearly, the entry qualifications for which are (a) that you ride a Brompton brand folding bicycle and (b) that you wear a suit and tie. When Bianca told me about this event, she did not realize that the brand of folding bicycle was specified and limited, and thought it might be ideal for me since I ride a folding bicycle while wearing a suit with some regularity (I don't have a picture of me in a suit on the bike, but here I am in business casual attire, in a picture actually taken by the very Bianca I'm talking about). Now, I could get into it about how Brompton should, in the spirit of unity among cyclists and general corporate magnanimity, admit all folding bicyclists to its competition, but that would be quixotic at best. Instead, I think maybe we should have a commuter bike race here in Connecticut.

Because I'm big-hearted and love all people, I wouldn't limit my commuter race to folding bikes. Instead, I'd invite everyone to ride on the bike they actually commute on, and if its a Litespeed or a 40-pound cruiser, or a unicycle, it wouldn't matter - it would be honor system: if you say you commute on it, we believe you - but you would absolutely have to wear a suit and dress shoes. Naturally, it would be in a city (Hartford comes to mind), so it would be what the kids call an "alley cat," and maybe there would be prizes and a party. Does this sound like a good idea? Shall we make it happen? Read more!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coastal bike touring

The New York Times has a standard travel article about a couple of rich guys (hey you're probably rich too! Check it out it's great news!) who ride a section of the Oregon Coast. It looks like a sure-fire good time. These guys did it in posh style, paying for fresh linens and waitress service.

Have you ever done a multi-day tour in coastal southern New England? Read more!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Making a folding bike look tougher

Honestly, I don't think there is a way to make 20"-wheeled bikes look tough. Wearing a suit while riding one is definitely not the way: when I do that in Bridgeport, children laugh at me. But the other week I went to pick up some spare wheels from a guy from craigslist, and carried them on the rack of my Raleigh Twenty. It looked like this:

Spare Wheels

I like it, because it almost does look tough somehow, probably because it makes the bike resemble a car with its spare tire stylishly displayed on the back, like this:

That is all. Read more!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

drop it like its hot

Last week, locked up at the rack at Home Depot; I spotted this bicycle; which, apparently, can work it, twirp it and make money money. This bike has more moves than that last sentence has commas. 21 speeds of delight! Yeah baby yeah, your bicycle’s ass is making me randy. I was at home depot picking up parts for a prototype rack I am building to tow my kayak.

We have all ghostridden a bicycle before. Maybe to a friend’s house or back to our own spot. Its not an uncommon sight. However, seeing someone ghostride a bicycle while on a scooter is something I haven’t seen before. This dude banked a sweet left at the intersection like it was nuttin’ and just motored on his way. But where? And why? Perhaps he is enroute to have his paltry rear suspension upgraded to a Fully Active Rear.

Ironically, this is a common sight! This guy and his wagon/dog trike caravan pass by Guy Harvey’s Island Grill pretty much every shift I work. He makes decent time with a solid pedal cadence in the afternoon. But whenever he passes by at night, he pedals one slow stroke, rests for a second, and down goes the pedal on the other side.


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Friday, July 10, 2009

Insanity defense

I took a break from work today to ride to La Paloma Sabanera for a cup of coffee and some solitaire on my 2004 model cell phone which doesn't seem to ring very often lately. I set the solitaire mode to all games winnable so I can feel good about myself. Side note: Virginia wants a bike rack. As I was leaving the garage at work, a fellow bicycle commuter explained his near collision with several oncoming cars blatantly turning left in front of him on his way east, down the Asylum St. hill this morning.

It seems counter-intuitive and it's probably not true, but I'm wondering if riding with certain quirky/not-necessarily-advisable manners might actually decrease your chances of automobile-related accidents by making drivers think twice before they pull some dumb shit. These manners might include going really fast and slow in alternating bursts, giving the impression of shakiness/swerviness as you approach an intersection, wearing an inflatable alligator strapped to your helmet, or smoking a pipe while riding.

I was watching a self-defense video on youtube where the instructor was telling you how to react the moment you get a sketchy feeling at an ATM. First hit the cancel button. Then feign anger, whacking the machine a few times and yelling about how you can't believe your significant other took all the money.

Maybe the best safety equipment you can get for bicycling with motorists is one, a properly-fitted helmet, and two, a facade of potentially belligerent/unpredictable behavior. Read more!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Free Jazz, And Wagering!

Well, let me explain: On Monday, my beautiful wife, my two impossibly handsome and charming sons, two of my co-workers and their respective dates, Joel, Kenny, Wildelice (sorry Wizzy, but I don't know how to spell your name), and I went to see free jazz in Bushnell Park. It was great. The weather was perfect, the music was good, etc. Enthused by this, the wife and I vowed to go to as much free outdoor stuff as possible, and tonight there is free jazz in Middletown, which would seem like a long way to go for a concert, except for the fact that she's already there ('cause she works there, see?). So weather permitting, we're going to do that, and you, dear reader, should go too, because it's fun.

Now here's the wagering part: As I often mention, nous sommes une famille de seule une voiture, and today my wife is in Middletown with said voiture, having used it to drive our younger son to daycare. I, on the other hand, am in Hartford with the velo, having used it to take our older son to camp in the trailer. So rather than make ma femme drive la voiture au Hartford to collect me and the boy then drive back to Middletown, I'm planning to tow the boy to Middletown. But here's the thing: On a fast-ish, road-ish bike like the (5-speed) Special Tour de France or the (8-speed) Xootr, I can cover the distance to Middletown, sans trailer, in an hour and change. Today, I need a folder so I can return in the car with the fam, so the STDF is out, but the Xootr is having chain-skipping issues since I replaced the chain, meaning that it needs a new cassette, meaning that it, too, cannot make the trip (using a skippy cassette with a new chain prematurely wears out the chain, allowing the terrorists to win, plus riding with chain skip is annoying). This leaves me with one option: Tow the trailer to Middletown with the Raleigh Twenty. Now understand this: The Raleigh Twenty is a fine bicycle with three fine speeds. But it is not a fast bicycle or a light bicycle. You might even say that it is slow and heavy. Another thing that is slow and heavy is a trailer with a sleeping five-year-old in it. So here's the question: How long will it take me to get from 335 Bloomfield Avenue in Hartford (Max's summer camp) to the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown? It's 21 miles of mostly flat terrain, I am 6'5" of pure, slow-riding bike muscle, and you, dear reader, will earn yourself two beers if you can guess my travel time to within ten minutes. I promise to be honest about the time and not to throw the result with purposeful delay or hurry. I cannot promise that I won't get a flat, need to stop for coffee, or get caught in the rain and stand under a tree till the storm passes. You just have to account for that in your guess.

UPDATE: Well, just as I was picking Max up from camp, the skies opened up and it rained a wicked lot. Then I called Anna and had her check the internets, and it said thunderstorms in Middletown around 7:30, so we bagged the whole trip, so no one wins, until I attempt the trip again next week, weather permitting. Read more!

Making Do is Where It's At

I have been gently teased for my inclination to rely on jury-rigged solutions and creations when it comes to bicycles (see, e.g., the adapter to avoid pedal strike when using 26" wheels in a frame made for 27" wheels, the second seat I built so my son could ride on the rack of my Raleigh Twenty, or the post-in-post extra-long seatpost I made for that same bike). Just last night, I solved a vexatious squeaky-brake problem on the old Xootr by entirely replacing the front wheel (I had already replaced the brake pads, readjusted the brake pads, and cleaned the rims, so I was out of ther options). And this morning, in anticipation of possibly riding to Middletown on the Raleigh with a trailer in tow (more on that later), I stole some pedals from one old, not-in-use bike to replace the questionable, mismatched pedals on the Twenty. So what I'm saying is, I don't think bikes need to look pretty or have matching parts or any of that. They need to go, because that's what's bikes are about - movement. But my scrappy, home-brew, spare-part-using aesthetic just had its battleship totally sunk by the owner of this bike, which I saw near Blueback Square a couple days ago:

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bicycles and sailboats and jugs of wine


I get to write about a blog appropiate afternoon of sailing that actually involves a few bicycles. Sweeeet! My unexpected day on the water began when I shouted “hoo-dee-hoo” from my yard as my neighbor Maya rode by on her bicycle. She swung a u-turn and came back into my driveway and asked if I wanted to go sailing on a 19 foot sailboat for the afternoon. Five minutes later I had a drybag packed with a few sailing sundries and was pedaling with her and her roommate Redbeard towards Garrison Bight. We arrived at the Key West Sailing Club and locked up our bicycles on the half-full rack. Maya checked out a sailboat and soon we were on our way; powered by the wind and totally enjoying the ride.

We cruised past Rat Key and through the Seaplane Basin towards open water and just wandered aimlessly for a few hours as Redbeard and I shared a jug of wine he had brought along. On our way back, we spotted the cruiser on the side of the sailboat and circled around for a good shot of the bicycle. Thanks Captain Maya! I love seeing bikes on boats. Another person doing the dingy/bicycle commute and avoiding paying rent on land!

Yep, another hard day in paradise. I really wish I knew some Viking songs. We were really wanting to sing Viking songs as we passed several different Navy SEAL boats on training missions that kept messing up our tacking. I hope I spelled that right. There was talk of outlaw canoes taking over the Navy and controlling the oceans. I am not sure I still think that’s a great idea. Anyways, we made it back to the dock and pedaled home, quite content and sunkissed.

Click READ MORE for an inappropriate photo for the blog!


A few weeks ago Mary Beth and I were returning from a kayak trip around No Name Key. We spotted a waterspout about a mile away and watched it slowly grow and drop down from the clouds to the water. We threw on our life vests and watched as we pretty much just continued paddling towards it to get to the take out. We were far more worried about the lightening suddenly coming at us from two different storm cells. It began to dissipate in 10 minutes as we continued hugging the mangroves on the coastline under the flashing sky. Its official…summer in the keys!

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Monday, July 6, 2009

The High-Speed Rail Line Will Be Constructed Out of Newsprint

Enthusiastic as I am about rail commuting and the construction of a useful rail link between Hartford and New Haven (and, well, Springfield too, I guess), I am starting to feel like the Courant will cover the 65 miles with column inches before Amtrak, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and federal stimulus money cover the distance with actual rails and stations. Today, another breathless update on this project, in which CT DOT chief Joseph Marie tells us it will take but five years.

What, too cynical? Yeah, I don't know what's come over me. I just really want there to be a good rail link, but I don't want to get my hopes up, because, you know, I lived a life of disappointment at civic improvements that always seem to come right after I move away: A slew of waterfront parks, bike access to the Manhattan Bridge, and a bike path on the Williamsburg Bridge that doesn't have big holes in it all came to New York shortly after I left; Super-super bike friendliness and bike nerd culture mecca status came to Portland shortly after I left there; during all the time I lived in Boston, all I got from the Big Dig was delays, cost overruns, and constantly changing jersey barrier arrangements all over the damn place, and now that I'm gone they have a sweet downtown park and you can actually see the North End from downtown. With my luck, the day that bullet trains with a bike-parking car start going from Hartford to New Haven twice an hour every hour, my beloved wife will get a professor job in Anchorage or something.

Anyway, my pessimism notwithstanding, things are looking up for the train. And, in perhaps the most encouraging sign, public opinion may be turning in favor of more rail lines. How do I know? Pure science: At the time of this posting, not one of the 11 comments to the Courant story contained a rant about how driving is our James-Madison-given 10th Amendment birthright or how people who ride bikes are terrorists (both of which, by the way, are true propositions).

Oh, and one other thing: Amtrak, my dear, justly maligned quasi-public agency, I realized two other ways that you are lousy: (1) When I go to one of your automated ticket machines, I can only buy tickets that originate or terminate at the station where I'm making the purchase, so if I'm waiting in Bridgeport for the Metro-North train to New Haven, I can't buy my New Haven-to-Hartford ticket ahead of time. (2) You actually require all passengers to sign their tickets. Why do you do this? I have seen conductors stand and wait while passengers search for a pen in order to sign a ticket. This is dumb and unnecessary and you need to cut it out right now. Read more!

Monday Night Jazz in Bushnell Park

Do you know how hard it is to find a picture that is truly appropriate for a post about riding your bike to an outdoor jazz concert? Kinda hard. Luckily, there is a cyclocross bike, made by Van Dessel, called the Gin and Trombones (frame pictured above). I think that is pretty good: Bike + Booze (good for sipping discreetly at an outdoor concert) + Trombone (a great jazz instrument) = WIN!

Tonight the Monday Night Jazz in Bushnell Park series begins. As the title suggests, it features jazz, on Monday nights, in Bushnell Park. What the title sort of implies but doesn't make clear is that this is live music and it is free. As it happens, the weather is supposed to be fairly nice tonight (20% chance of thunderstorms after 8:00, but the music starts at 6:00!), so it is a good time to go canoodle with your fellow Hartfordites and enjoy some live music (tonight features the saxophone stylings of George Blackman, Jr. (whom I have never heard but have decided to like on the basis of his being, like me, a Brooklynite living in Connecticut), and the Afro-Semitic Experience, who win on the basis of their name alone). Having conferred with my dear wife, I can say that la familia presidencial will be in the mix, and I know that Joel and Ken (contributors to this very blog) mentioned last week that they intended to go to as many Monday night concerts as possible. I strongly urge our five regular readers to go as well. Bushnell Park is a great jazz venue for bike riders because it is park, so you should ride your bike there and listen to jazz, and maybe bring some wine for sippin'. Also, cookies. Jazz and cookies go great together. Read more!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Showdown in Old Town alleycat race


Key West's first alleycat race! And its gonna be tropical craziness! There's a lot of surprises in store for the racers and prizes for both fast riders and those on obligatorily rusted conch cruisers! I have certainly slacked on my blogging and organizing here, but this will more than make up for it. We got a lot of great local sponsors already supporting us with prizes and help. Props to Patrick at Fixed Gears, a bicycle repair shop on Simonton Street; Charlie at Help Yourself, a wonderful organic and green food spot on Fleming Street, Billy at Cowboy Bill's, the island's only Honky Tonk Bar, Charlie and Ron at Conch Traders, a great little gift shop at Clinton Square Market and hopefully a slew of other supportive businesses. Yeeeeehaaaawwww!

OK, enough with the bill paying, what about the race? You will need a basket or a bag and please don't forget your lock and lights. Meet at the end of the White Street Pier at 6pm to register. We need volunteers for checkpoints, please come a few minutes early and wear a cowboy hat if ya got one or bring a bandana to wear around yer neck to help the racers identify the checkpoint peoples.

The final checkpoint and afterparty is at a bar, so, unfortunately this race is 21+. But...I have worked out $1 PBR's all night for racers and volunteers!!

I'll post more details as the event gets closer. To all my peoples in da 'Beat, c'mon on down. I'll find you a hammock, tent space, floor space, whatever you need to get down here.

Here's the back of the flyer incase y'all have no idea what an alleycat race is all about:


no hints here about the checkpoints.....sucka!

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If you're unmarried, like me, you don't give much thought to your left ring finger. You don't point at stuff with it or don't make hand gestures with it. It's just sort of there. Now, I'm giving lots of thought to it because I broke it on Sunday at the Reservoir. I'm leaving for vacation soon and I'm down a digit. It seems to be healing quickly, but I'm certain it'll be a bit of time before I can mountain bike with it. It looks like I won't get the Kingdom Trails time that I was hoping for.

Anyway, anybody have recent broken finger stories that can clue me into healing time? When I get I start riding my road bike? Tomorrow? In a week? October?

However, I will get to spend lots of quality time with Johanna!

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In furtherance of carless living

Hombre Mirando al Sudeste

This week, my eldest son, Max (pictured above), began summer camp, which is of no particular import to you cycle-centric readers, except that it presents a new wrinkle in the ever-evolving tapestry of my one-car, two-job, two-child, multi-city family commute. Until now, Max went to pre-school in Middletown, which meant that my dear wife, who works in Middletown, could take him there and pick him up in our dear car. Now, however, he is at camp right in our home-suburb of West Hartford, so on days when I am not working in Bridgeport, it make sense for me to take him by bike and then go to the office. This has presented a couple of unexpected challenges.

First, it's a long ride. According to Google Maps, my route (see below) is exactly six miles, which I wouldn't think twice about by myself. But I didn't anticipate how much slower the going would be with a five-year-old in tow. The answer is, a lot slower. It takes me about 45 minutes.

Second, my much vaunted second seat, which I constructed so I could cart Max around on the back of my Raleigh Twenty in style, has a fatal flaw: It requires him to hold on, and after the first day of camp, he was so exhausted that he started to get drowsy on there. I was looking down and to the side to see the shadow of his helmeted head, and it started to loll this way and that, and he wasn't answering me, so I stopped and he was in fact asleep. Still holding on, but asleep. So I had to shoulder the sleeping child and walk the bike for several miles, which sucked.

Third, there is practically no way to get where I have to go without traveling along busy, highway-esque streets. By myself, I would not care about this, but with the next generation in tow, I'm a little more conscious of the narrowness of roads and the heedless proximity of busy drivers (to say nothing of the jokers who cut me off and do other crazy stuff, when it is very obvious that I have a goddamn child trailer).

Has all of this deterred me? It has not. Has it made me sweaty and late to work? Sure. But not that sweaty and not that late. And Max is very very proud of the fact that he is the only kid who arrives by bicycle, which is a good sentiment and signals that his nascent values are good and should be encouraged. (Then again, he often expresses the same level of pride in the size of his poops, so maybe I shouldn't read too much into it.) Read more!