Saturday, August 29, 2009

Critical Mass. Columbus, Ohio. August 2009

That title above should read something like; Being critical of the lack of a mass in Columbus, Ohio. It was surreal. Freaky. Inexplicable. Strange. Disappointing. I arrived at the State House lawn 30 minutes early hoping to meet some peoples, but found nobody. Eventually, around 5;30 I recognized someone I met the day before, a friend of friends of mine, Issac. I had no idea he was in the middle of a massive years long cycling trip. He was from Canada and hanging around for a month. I was from Hartford/Key West and hanging around for a week. And there we were, the only people who showed up for Critical Mass and both of us were out-of-towners! Huh? Yep, and it gets worse and strange. Really strange!

So, first, here's a pic of everyone ready to ride. Me on the left and Issac on the right. Thank you to the random lady reading on the bench for taking out picture and making sure no one had their eyes closed. I really was looking forward to the ride. It had rained all day, but cleared up pretty nice and I wanted to explore and mingle. But nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So, this guy in the blue t-shirt comes up to us wanting us to sign some stuff about clean and affordable energy. We couldn't help as neither of us were registered Ohio voters. I asked him about the critmass ride, hoping he'd know something. He kinda laughed and said he hadn't owned or ridden a bicycle since college, almost sounding like cycling was beneath him or something. He then wandered off still chuckling to himself as Issac and I wondered about his commitment to clean and affordable energy and feeling super confused. Whhhaaaaat!?!?

We headed over to the Tip Top bar, which I was told had $1 PBR's for cyclists and was a pretty hoppin' hangout. We arrived to a great mix of people, several bicycles locked up and lots of people who looked like urban cyclists. We ordered a round and tried to talk to a table of people who obviously biked. I asked about Critical Mass. They said not many people usually go and it kinda sucked. I excitedly suggested they make their own flyers and make it a great ride. The response? "Someone used to make flyers." And that was that.  They also mentioned the monday night rides but were not fans of it citing irresponsible riding. They weren't particularly friendly. Perhaps if I returned in cut-off jean shorts and Issac got a fixie, things would have gone better.

Issac and I sat down at a nearby table and crowd watched. One dude was actually wearing a critmass t-shirt! Yep, during the time the ride shoulda been happening, someone was drinking at a bar, wearing the shirt? WTF Columbus? Really?

UPDATE Stopped in a few bike shops today and it turns out the Monday night has upwards of 200 people with good weather (like today!) and critmas is pretty much dead. Well, weekly sounds better than monthly! Looking forward to the ride tonight. Might also head back down to the river around sunset for some explorations.

BTW the Columbus Monday Night Ride was pretty sweet. There were 40ish people and went everywhere. wow. so very, very happy to have had 35's, gears and brakes! Met some nice, sharing peeps and even took turns going around an unlighted BMX track! sketchy...but fun. One dude crashed on a street and totally taco'd his front wheel. The thing was toasted. Really burnt toast at that. He removed the wheel and smashed it on the ground until it was reasonably tru again, put it back on the bike and off we were after a great rest stop in the middle of industrial southern Columbus. Well done!  

There were a few red light runnings, multilane blockages and beer can litteringt that I felt was a bit obnoxious and irresponsible, but overall the ride was great. Thanks Columbus!

Click Read More for a story about a redeeming 20miler along the Olentangy River Greenway!

Saturday, after an afternoon breakfast, we embarked on a ride along the
Olentangy River Greenway. T'was great being out of traffic and in a somewhat natural setting. Urban wilderness we'll call it. I'd happily swim in the Connecticut River before jumping into this one! But it was pretty and a good amount of people were out on it. It parallels High Street, several blocks away, for miles and its a great alternative to the busy street.

We passed this great bike rack parking lot outside of a large building on Ohio State University. The trail skirts the campus for a bit. There's also some options for riding right next to the river or on higher ground. Its all paved, but there were lots of side trails for mountain bikes too.

I don't remember the name of this pedestrian bridge, but I really liked the curves of the wood.

Mikey and Jason catching up with emails and texts!

What a glorious day to fly down a little hill...

Jason is really diggin' the flying.

We eventually met up with Chrizzle, who just bought a sweet city cruiser and rode High Street the whole way back with a few pitstops along our merry way. Thanks again to Chrizzle and Jason for buying those chocolate chip cookies! 

I am still trying to figure out the scene here. There's a good bit of infrastructure here, lots of people on bikes and even quite a few bike shops; though some seem to focus on hipster clothing more than bike stuff! Drivers seem pretty cool except for two rednecks in a pick-up truck yelling at us to "get the hell off the road!" Other than that, cars have been super respectful. There's bike racks all over and lots of people pedaling around. OK, i am off to tear apart my van looking for the handlebar tape i bought at EMS in West Hartford. The Gunnar has got to get rewrapped!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

late, late night ride and drive through drama


Any ride starting at 12:20am at the North Main Street entrance to Keney Park is pretty much expected to be interesting. I left Babaganush's house in Frog Hollow in a rush after a grueling, great, but losing table tennis match. North Main Street's clubs and bars were bustling with people. Seemed like everyone was having a fun, peaceful night. I arrived late to Keney Park. A tall person in a white T lingered in the darkness next to the entrance gate. He called out to me! Whew... it was Joel and he was full of stories of the randomn crazy shit he had watched while waiting for me.

"Where we riding?"

"I dunno, where do you want to go?"

"I don't care, but I'm kinda hungry. I want food. Or maybe a Frosty!"

Yep, conversations like that can only lead to dumb ideas. Joel suggested Wendy's at Buckland Hills. And with that, we took off to cross the river on the 291 Bridge. What a great ride. I got my ass handed to me several times on several hills, but loved every minute of it. Joel kept exclaiming how we were geniuses for riding at night, the coolest time of the day. It was hilarious! "WIll, we're freakin' geniuses! Everyone should be out right now! We're freakin' geniuses! Geniuses!" Too, too funny. And totally, completely true!

With Joel as a trusted guide, we wound through East Hartford and Manchester and finally arrived at Wedny's. I rode to the drive through window. A man sweeping kinda ignored me until I asked, "Are y'all open?"

"yeah...for cars!" He replied, smiling, but serious.

"Huh? Dude, I just rode here from Hartford C'mon now, hook me up!"

He consulted with a manager out of my view and quickly got permission to serve me. After taking my order and money I asked if i should pedal up to the next window. He cracked up and said yes. All worked out, but really!?!? Really Mr. Man at Wendy's!? Its onefrreakingthirty in the what if I am on a bicycle?!?!?

We ate. We joked. Joel seriously suggested some exploring. I seriously wanted a hammock. We retraced our steps most of the way. We parted ways at the East entrance of the pedestrian ramp dunno. East Hartford or South Windsor? We actually got a bit lost and rode into SW for a ways before making a u-turn and figuring things out. Joel crossed the Connecticut River on 291 and went home. I decided to avoid the North End at this crazy hour and pedal South through East Hartford and cross at the Buckley Bridge.

Crossing at 2:56AM! What a random ride for crappy fast food. This is summer in Hartford to me. Fun rides with friends for no real reason. Life is wonderful.

By the way, if anyone reading this will be in Columbus Ohio tonight in the Short North, gimma a holla if you need a ride. I'll be pedicabbing for my friends' company; ECT Pedicabs! Holla!

And here is the rest of it.

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late night bicycle beer delivery

It was wonderful being back in da 'beat for a week; especially all the late night bike rides with friends i miss dearly. I forgot what kissing the river with Krash and Joel was like and on Tuesday night mistakenly brought out the island fixie. whoops! Fatter tires, gears and brakes were far more useful than a basket...especially on the Myrtle Street Tuck'n'Bomb! We picked up Rick enroute to PHH and enlisted him for the ride and had a great time. Playing chase at the EH ghetto velodrome with four bikes was crazy fun! Congrats to Joel for winning and taking home with him...bragging rights til next time! My biggest surprise was forgetting how shitty and potholed the roads are in da 'beat. wow! Later, on rides with my road bike, i was super happy to have 35's between my bike and I, and the roads. Props and 'nuff respect to everyone battling the crappy roads and crazy drivers in the city. Stay safe y'all.

Wednesday night Krash and I decided to ride out to Joel's spot with a sixer and give him some company. I have no idea how far we rode, but it was cool to ride Joel's commute from Windsor, though we did take an extra credit night route through Keney Park. Ha! Just as we entered at Tower Avenue a passing car yelled at us not to go in there at night. I wasn't worried about riding though as much as flatting out. But we survived and exited onto 159 and rode North.

We stopped on the bridge over the Farmington River. My biggest regret being back in CT was not taking a swim in this beautiful river's cold water. There are no rivers in Key West and right now the ocean temp is freakin' 90 degrees. Even a CT heatwave was relief for me...especially the wonderfully cool nights. Loved them!

Eventually we made it to Joel's and promptly got a tour of his camper and cracked open the beers. The ride back was fun. Joel accompanied us to Windsor Center before u-turning home. Krash certainly exploited my legs which were used to flat island riding, but i mos def beat him up a few hills; which by the way, I really miss hills. Up, down, whatever. Its all good. Hills are a much, much more fun challenge than a headwind!

And here is the rest of it.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009


I finally got around to fixing my bike ahead of the Norcross Scurry on Saturday and in the process I was thinking about the weirdness of parts on bikes that are disposable. I was replacing the rear derailleur and chain. Isn't it weird that what is a bicycle's drive shaft breaks with such frequency? On my mountain bikes, it seems to be about once per year or so that I replace a chain. If drive shafts on cars with that frequency, there'd be incredible number of cars broken down on the side of road. Same thing with tubes: if cars got flat tires as frequently as bikes, there'd be dead cars littering the sides of roads everywhere.

To that end, I wonder (because I'm ignorant) about motorcycles. They're to some extent big bikes with motors, do they break down as much as bikes?

I suppose cars do have mechanical problems fairly regularly, but the problems aren't as inhibiting to movement as they are on bikes. Well, mostly I'm wondering if chain drive motorcycles break chains very often. There's a lot more torque on those chains than on bikes.

Further, why do so many bike parts seem so much more disposable than parts on other modes of transportation. Are bikes just built to break down? Read more!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cleaning stuff again

So, I have unilaterally decided that the beat bike blog is going to participate in the CT River Watershed Council's Source to Sea Cleanup again this year. The little section of the river we cleaned really looked nice afterward. Also, I think we did the real foundational work last year, so the cleanup will hopefully be easier this year.

I was also thinking that it'd be really cool to follow it up with a 100k tour of the river's banks from Windsor to Middletown on both sides of the river- sort of a giant, non-competitive one lap Eel (isn't it cool how I linked to a non-beat bike blog Eel post?). 100k is a tall order right after all that cleaning up, so maybe we'll do it on the Sunday.

So, come Oct 3 at 11am to the confluence of the Connecticut and Park Rivers to do some cleaning.

Editor's note: the dates are now fixed. Read more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reviewing stuff

Editor's note: I some how managed to delete the top couple of paragraphs of this post when I was adding the picture. So, I shall try to recreate what I wrote.

A couple of months ago, Global Ride sent me an email asking if the beat bike blog would like to review their "Hawaiian Rides" DVD box set. I'll try anything once, so I said sure. They arrived several months ago, but as it is the summer months, I much rather ride a bike in reality than in my guided imagination. The three DVDs are Maui Rollers, Oceanside Ride, StrenDurance Hawaii. I'm not sure that "StrenDurance" is a word, so I stuck with the other two.

They're really pretty rides and they're almost a substitute for the real thing. Well, I suppose if you live in Hawaii, they're definitely not a substitute, because you can actually go on these rides. They're also very well shot, but I have one complaint: the car or whatever is holding the camera takes sharp turns very strangely, as in it seems to favor the outside of the turn and mildly makes you feel like you're not going to make the corner and crash. The other sort of weird thing is that it'll fade out of sections of road into totally new sections. I'd rather just stick with the same road/route, but the variety is cool, I suppose.

I found the music to be pleasant, but I'm predisposed to liking jazzy techno, because my dad was way into for awhile. You can also turn on a coach's voice, who tells you encouraging coach-type things to make you pedal harder and sweat more. That's definitely helpful, because if it doesn't actually because more difficult to pedal when the DVD shows you going up a hill, why would you pedal harder?

The DVDs end with these 1/2 hour core strength training stuff. That's not really my thing, but I'm a man with a naturally strong core.

Once I am legit in my training apparatus, I think I'll do a follow-up to this. My verdict at present is that it's definitely better than power yoga, but probably not as good as Wayne's World. When the weather is nasty, this allows you to go on an ersatz nice ride, but what Global Ride really needs to offer are tickets to Hawaii along with the DVD. Also, my favorite work out show ever was definitely Bodies in Motion with Gilad Janklowitz, which was shot in Hawaii, not so much because I ever did the workouts, but because he seemed like a really nice guy. It was interesting to learn that he was originally from Israel. He's the only Israeli workout guru I know of in Hawaii. I'm not sure how Gilad and cycling training DVDs are related, so on second thought, never mind.

Speaking of more reviews, this guy, Tyler, from CSN Stores & emailed me last week and wanted to know if we wanted to review some other stuff. I replied asking him why he thought a bike blog was the right place to review luggage, mattresses or cookware. I mean, there's nothing exceptional about our sleeping and I know just as many soporific adjectives as the next guy. But, he persisted and insisted that they sell all sort of stuff, even bike related stuff. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and the blogging side of me (unlike the work side of me) has no problem accepting gifts. So, whatever happens to arrive in my mailbox, I'll write about it.
Soon, maybe I'll write about riding my bike agian. There doesn't seem to be anything new an interesting in that regard, though. (The copious links were requested.)
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

I don't like folding tires

The beads on the Michelin folding tires I bought for my roadbike are a bitch to lever off the rim when I get a flat. When I go to slide the lever after getting up under the bead the bead just kind of jams up and sticks to the lever. It ends up taking forever to wrestle the bead off. Don't buy them. Get some regular tires that don't fold, like Bontrager hard case tires, my personal favorite.

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Doomsday Scenarios: The Myrtle Street Tuck'n'bomb Edition

When I was about 24 I woke up to my mortality and all the possible ways I might panic, grieve, and be terrified. I am embarrassed about my bogeymen, and they still move me from time to time, although I like to think I am slowly on my way to brave sailing.

The first bogeyman was peak oil. Then I moved on to nonlinearities in the climate system and James Lovelock's newest vision of the future- polar cities populated by lucky and ruthless survivors. I am also taken in by old-fashioned Malthusian food shortages and subsequent civil chaos.

But since we are in the insurance capital of the world, what does an actuary say? What's most likely to cause me suffering and death?

While you are waiting at the doctor's office you might fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle and if you've made any recent changes. The one I filled out on my last visit asked me if I wear a helmet when I'm riding my bicycle. It also told me that accidents and injuries are a major cause of death and disability. Most of us know this first- or second-hand, but I guess I need a regular reminder.

I reckon I'm a lot more likely to die riding my bike recklessly down the Myrtle Street Tuck'n'bomb than by hordes of hungry climate refugees. Might be useful to figure out a way to remind myself of this fact more often, maybe some sort of ritual. I'd be safer on my bike and less neurotic about relatively unlikely grim reapers.

Do you, dear reader, cross your heart or say a prayer before you get on your bicycle?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A review of a bag

El Presidente de China was pretty good at getting companies to give stuff to the blog for reviewing, etc. One thing that arrived from Manhattan Portage was a large orange NY Messenger Bag. I got it after Joel because I bitched that I wasn't getting any free stuff. I guess I'm a squeeky wheel.

Anyway, part of taking meant that I was supposed to reivew it. A little more than a year has passed since I've started using it, so it's gotten some use. I'm not a messenger, but few messenger bag users are, so I don't think that matters. Further, isn't everyone using a reload, chrome or bailey works bag anyway? That aside, they had no desire to give our blog anything to review, so they suck. But, I've riden with this bag almost everyday for the last year to and from work and the other places I go.

When I inherited this bag from Joel, it was more or less new and still stiff. It's made out of cordura and has vinyl lining. The vinyl lining is supposedly to be waterproof. In my experience, nothing on the inside has ever gotten wet. I remember when particularly nasty & wet stretch in St. John's, NL while on vacation soon after I first got it and I wished that I could climb into the bag while I was riding to stay as dry as my stuff. Also, that big vinyl-lined chamber is quite big. It'll fit pretty much whatever you want and anything more probably shouldn't be on your back. The bag once had a bunch of leeks in it at the Billings Forge Farmers Market and was featured in a video on the Courant's website.

It's got some pockets that I keep some stuff in, but I've never really thought pockets are that much of a make or break issue. As long as they don't develop holes, they're good. These haven't developed holes.

The closure system consists of two big velco strips and and two nylon straps with plastic buckles. If it's not raining, they buckles aren't even really needed, although they'll flail around and hit your butt.

My big complaint has always been the strap and stability. The shoulder strap isn't super comfortable and there's no stablization mechanism. So, it used to swing forward sometimes, especially if I'd get out of the sadle. However, after about six months of use, it's started to break itself in. The bag is shaped like my back now and I've kind of worn in the strap.

In breaking it in, it's really grown on me. For the first three or four months, I was nonplussed. But, it's my big orange purse and I like it.

In closing, it's the cheapest well-made big bag I know of, so I recommend. Hell, I might even spend money on one. I'll never be a backpack man again.

I don't think they make the orange any more, though.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm a failure, or my D2R2 ride report

So, I went on and on about the D2R2 for a long time and on Saturday I got up at 4:30 to drive up with my old Stumpjumper to Deerfield and partake.

I was tired.

My bikes was tired.

It was early when I left.

I registered, got my cue sheet and other attendant documents, ate some bagel stuff and set out around 6:20. The morning was still nice and cool and these were seeming pretty pleasant. The first 30-something miles to the first checkpoint were rolling and pretty. There was a tough 15% climb up to checkpoint, but at the top was a very pretty field of sunflowers. I ate some more bagel stuff and put some water in my camelbak and continued on.

Pretty field of sunflowers.

Things were still pretty good. Royer Rd. was a fun little diversion and I cleared the 27% climb on Archambo Rd. The climb right after that was pretty difficult and I actually ended up walking a few hundred feet. Things went up and down for awhile, with one pretty fast hill (that I'm told claimed a collarbone and caused at least one bad crash) eventually bringing me to the 60 mile lunch checkpoint at the Green River. I ate a cheese sandwich and some trail mix and got more water.
Getting ready to leave after lunch, these are some of the very few mountain bikes that I saw.

I was still feeling pretty good and fresh and climbed out the river valley. I rode with another guy for awhile and I followed him on a wrong turn up a very steep hill. I stopped half way up to consult the map and the cue sheet. He continued, but eventually came back down to tell me that the road ended and became a hiking trail. I started to feel a little bit weaker around this point, but not that terrible. After a few miles, there was a Leyden Police office handing out gatorade and water. I drank a bottle of gatorade and thanked her for her hospitality. There was some more climbing that brought me to a farm with two bottles of warm water sitting out. I thought this was the optional water break that the cue sheet described and I sat under a tree on a picnic table, ate a cliff bar and pour one of the bottles into my Camelbak. After descending a big hill back down to the Green River, I realized that the optional water station was in fact there. So, I guess I was just stealing water from the farmers. But, they smiled and waved to me when I sat down, so maybe it was a supplemental thing to be nice. Who knows. Anyway, thank you to the farmers on top of the hill on North County Road in Leyden.

Meeting up with the river, there was this very pretty and pleasantly flat four miles.

Uh oh. Switchbacks are coming.

After that, there were switchbacks coming out of the valley. Heading up, several people were cramping up. I felt bad for their plight, but soon realized it was contagious because by the end of the first switchback I was cramping, too. I paused, grimaced, walked it off and got back on the bike. There was a bunch more climbing and near the top, I started to cramp again. I drank a bunch more water. Ever since around 10:00, it had been pretty hot, so I had done some considerable sweating, but I had been good about drinking water. In fact, I'd probably consumed like a gallon or so at that point. I rode & walked some more up and until the conclusion of the hill and was hurting a bit, but I was also at like mile 90 at that point. Only 20 more to go and I was certain I could push through. Climbs were starting to get pretty tough, but flats weren't too bad. This area dropped back down into a valley again in Colrain. Up ahead was the hideousness of Patten Hill, but it was pretty flat up until there. Those flats, however, were starting to put a strain on me. I knew that I'd probably be walking almost all if not all of Patten Hill.

It was true, I arrived, clipped out of my pedals and started walking. It seemed that there were still a lot of people behind me, because suddenly all these people materialized behind me and rode passed me. It was only at about 2mph faster than me, but they at least remained on their bikes. I tried getting back on, but the cramps would over take my legs. I think it's about 3 miles to the summit and I walked almost the entire thing. I have no idea how long it took, probably over an hour or something and I was totally defeated at the top and collapsed on the side of the road. A very pleasant guy on a Cross Check gave me some shot blocks along the way. I had devoured them, but no cramp cessation. The checkpoint was maybe 200 yards away and it was totally flat. I remounted and could barely pedal, but made it. I was done. I ate some food and salt and some more electrolyte stuff, but I was cramping everywhere: legs, hands, chin and feet. I got some encouragement, because there was only ten more miles and I thought that I'd be an idiot for giving up with ten miles to go and it was almost all down hill. But, I got back on the bike, I locked up and knew I was done. Norman, a volunteer and owner of Flye Cycles (of Sunderland, MA), gave me a ride back to the start/finish. My cramps subsided as I was driving home.

So, I learned a valuable lesson about these things called electrolytes. I ate well and drank well, but sweated all the salt out of my body. The race organizers put out tons of things that I should have been eating and drinking, but I made poor decisions and I had to scratch with 10 miles left, but with 15,000' of climbing done. I'm pretty disappointed in myself.

In terms of bike selection, I'm still wondering if a mountain bike was the best choice. Most people were on 'cross bikes or touring bikes. I was able to bomb down hills and pass everyone (not that it was a race, but it was a much more confident descender), but I was always passed on flats and most climbs. I only saw like two other mountain bikes.

In other news about scratching long rides, happily, fatcyclist seems to be ok after crashing out of the Leadville 100.

Here's a cool map of the whole thing. Read more!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seller's Regret

Being from small-town/rural Maine, I've always been a mountain biker. Since I moved to Connecticut, two years ago, I have only been mountain biking a few times. While living in Hartford, and even since I moved to Windsor, most of my riding is on the road and is mostly destination-oriented. I love this city/suburban riding- riding fast, feeling the pull of traffic, and stopping off for ale and snacks. Stupidly, as part of my attempt to build an unemployment fund for when my contract ends on September 4th, I sold my Raleigh M-80 mountain bike. Not less than two weeks later, my old bad-habit-inducing college buddies decided we'd be getting together in Colorado for a weekend, and we'd be doing some mountain biking.

As I've been ill of heart lately, I have been spending a preposterous amount of time restoring the broken-down 1974 Sunline slide-in truck camper that is sitting on sawhorses in the yard of the house I stay at in Windsor. New floor, new walls, new framing in the front quarter, new running lights, and lots of paint, putty tape and caulk. I'm driving this camper to Colorado to rendezvous with my college buddies, but I'm sickened that I won't have my mountain bike.

This is the third time I've experienced seller's regret, and I have yet to learn my lesson. The first two times were whitewater kayaks- forgiving kayaks that had carried me through danger. I guess sometimes you need the money, and sometimes you need to save storage space. In general though, selling these things is a bad idea. The sweat you put into bikes and boats makes them worth more than some schmuck could ever give you in a crass, internet-orchestrated transaction.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Leg pain

As part of my comprehensive D2R2 training plan, I went to the hills of the north. Well, sort of. Part of my comprehensive training plan involved making sure that Johanna had a ride home from Vermont. On Saturday, Johanna and I decided to take a hike at Franconia Notch. Hikes are great for places where one cannot ride a bike. We hiked up Mt. Lafayette and then along the Franconia Ridge Trail to Mt. Lincoln & Haystack Mt. There were views and it was nice, but the next day, my legs were all sore and still are. I don't understand it. I hike pretty frequently and generally my legs are fine, but then every so often, they really hurt. Does anyone know why? Am I simply a bad hiker? Is there some secret walking technique that I don't know?

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Friday, August 7, 2009

I'm a liar

You may recall yesterday that I said that I was going to do a ride out in the Northwest Corner. Well, I'm not. I'm going up to Vermont again. So, even though no one indicated that they wanted to come ride with me, even if someone did, they can't. Also, even though it's a few days late, it's too bad about Fat Cyclist's wife, Susan. Obviously, a big important blog like that doesn't know who we are, but I feel compelled to say anything anyway.

Also, Joel and I (and then Ken) went to the Wadsworth's Blog This!. I have always liked the Wadsworth. I've had several friends who've worked there and two friends who painted the Sol Lewitt "Whirls and Twirls" (I can't find an image of Wad's, only the one at MassMOCA) in the stairwell. The event was cool in that the museum reached out to us, but I'm prejudiced because I already liked the museum. At the same time, I'm trying to think up a good way to incorporate the Wadsworth into a blog about riding a bike. Is there a way to do that? Who knows? On a happy note, they've hired a new contemporary art curator and the Matrix will be back in January or February. I also learned that the previous contemporary art curator (or was is director), Joanna Marsh, who was really good, was hired away by the present Wadsworth director, Susan Talbot, when Susan was working down at the Smithsonian. So, it was her fault that there was no contemporary art person at the Wadsworth when she arrived.

Louise Bourgeois at the Hirshorn.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting ready

It's the last weekend before I have to get up at 4am, drive to Deerfield, MA and ride the D2R2. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm still worried. I've been riding my bike a lot, but not exactly in the D2R2 style, a style which is difficult to ride in the greater Hartford area. We've got like two dirt roads and the biggest nearby hill is like 1000'. So, my plan this weekend is to take a place drive out to Salisbury on Saturday and ride up Mt. Riga into the Mt. Washington State Forest. It's a redux of a failed ride from earlier this year when the road was impassible due to snow. It looks to have a little more than 2000' feet of climbing and be at 1/3 dirt. This is it on gmaps pedometer. Anybody want to join me? It's not even a 50 mile ride! We'll go through Bash Bish Falls, which I hear is very pretty.

image stolen from the new england waterfalls website.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

thank you Ted White for Return of the Scorcher

Return of the Scorcher is one of the movies on a Ted White DVD, which also contains the more talked about, We Are Traffic. WAT is a great documentary about the Critical Mass movement and its creation in San Francisco in the early 1990’s. It gave me the inspiration to begin making flyers for the Hartford ride and try and get people to come out and enjoy the city. I love this movie. It certainly changed my life and helped grow the ride in Hartford.

My smoldering romance with Return of the Scorcher has suddenly erupted with fireworks! I watched a borrowed copy of the DVD for the longest time, which my friend Steve had bought to use at a CCBA event. At some point last year I finally returned the movie to him and haven’t seen it since. A few days ago I received my own copy from this link and have watched it a few times. I cannot get enough of Return of the Scorcher and all the amazing vingettes of bicycle culture from Guangzho (Canton), China back in 1991. Most of the citizens use bicycles and tricycles for commuting and business as well as dating. The whole part about riding women sidesaddle is wonderful! There’s also a scene in which George Bliss describes giant intersections with no traffic signals and bicycles competeing with cars, trucks, busses and motorcycles to cross lanes of traffic. He described the bikes leading the charge across the street as a critical mass; which gave the founders of CM the idea for the name!

There’s also quite a bit of footage from Amsterdam showing bicycles as daily transportation and showcasing all the infrastructure built to support a lifestyle on two wheels. The use of the bicycle in the Women's rights movement is also really interesting. Dang, the whole DVD is super interesting and super inspirational. I am not sure how many people have seen or heard of this movie, but I felt a need to thank Ted White for making it and encourage y’all to enjoy it.

And here is the rest of it.

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Beat bike blog considered legitimate blog!

There are a number of blogs in Hartford and most write about news and politics. I consider news and politics to be work, so I have no desire to write about those things unless I'm getting paid. To that end, I write about bikes with my fellow beat bike bloggers. Accordingly, we usually aren't regarded as a very important blog, evidenced by not making on to the lame Laurel Club's blogroll (although we are on the Courant's City Line).

Thus, you can imagine my surprise when the Wadsworth invited us to this:

This Sol LeWitt is actually found at MassMOCA, not the Wadsworth, but I didn't want to steal their image.

Don't Forget, Blog This!

We heard our 4:30 start time was tough for many of you-if you can't make it then, join us when you can, we'd still love to hear from you and admission is still free to Phoenix Art After Hours!

Check out the recent coverage of Blog This! from Fox News. We hope to see you this Thursday at 4:30!

For those that missed it, the complete invite is below.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art invites you to join us at our inaugural Blog This! event, on August 6, from 4:30 – 6:30 pm.

Blog This! will provide a forum for social media writers from throughout the state to connect with each other, while connecting with great art! We also hope to gain insights into how we can better work together to position both Hartford, and Connecticut, as a premier cultural destination (and not just someplace between New York and Boston!)

The agenda includes an update from the Director, Susan Talbott, an overview of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture by Director, Olivia White and a Docent led highlights tour of the museum’s permanent collection.

Come for the formal part – but stay for the fun part - join us from 6:30 – 8 pm for our First Thursday festivities which will include temporary tattoos, the opening of Skin!, an exhibition of photographs created by teens in The Amistad Center for Art & Culture’s Neighborhood Studio summer youth program, and original hip-hop beats performed by Connectbeats. Food and cocktails will also be available.

• Date: August 6, 2009
• Time: 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
• Location: Wadsworth Atheneum of Art
600 Main St., Hartford, CT

Joel and I plan to go. Although, I meant not stay the whole time, because I want to go for a bike ride.

PS. I ate at Hiep Phat Vietnamese Fast Food again yesterday. It's still awesome! Read more!

Monday, August 3, 2009

2 cats

So, that race in Massachusetts happened yesterday. As promised, Brendan raced Cat 2. Brendan's bike, however, had no desire to do that.

I pre-rode the course, well some of it, and thought it was going to be a fun race. It felt fast and manageable. I stopped pre-riding when I came upon this crazy floating bridge.

Crazy floating bridge.

Crazy floating bridge with Brendan and some other guy.

I figured that the Cat 2 start would be faster than the Cat 3. It was, but not that much faster. I was in fourth going into the singletrack in the woods. Positions changed a bit until the crazy floating bridge, but I was in fourth getting to the bridge. My rear derailleur had started shifting funny, but I didn't really think anything of it until the other side of the floating bridge. It promptly shifted the chain into the spokes on the other side of bridge. I fixed it and on the next shift, it did it again. Things were not looking good. I lost a whole slew of positions and realized that I had bent the derailleur, though the hanger looked ok. Needless to say, this made riding with speed up any hill very difficult because I couldn't shift into any of the lower gears. I took it easy for a while, trying to figure out which gears worked and which gears didn't. I finally settled into a groove and could ride at maybe 75%. I caught back up to two 19-29 people and was started to feel a little more confident. It being my first Cat 2 race my expectations weren't very high, so I was just riding for the sake of riding and having a pretty good time.

Then my chain broke and I stopped having a good time. I ended up jogging the second half of the third lap and finishing with a depressing +2 hours time on an 18 mile course. Although, my wonderful girlfriend, Johanna, was waiting for me a little ways before the finish for some cheering up.

Brendan on foot.

She took the picture, so you can't see her.

Also, Cat 2 seems to be a good fit, though it'll be awhile until I win some socks again.

2nd also, one of the reasons that the crazy floating bridge was so crazy was that the water on either side was like four feet deep. I was told that in the Cat 1 race, someone tried to do a slick pass by running around the bridge and he sank. Also in the Cat 1 race, someone tried to jump on to the bridge, busted his ass and crashed into a tree.
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