Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sky Pilot

With my recent trip to Oregon came all the excitement and uncertainty of plunking myself down in a completely unfamiliar place. I knew I would surely want to do a lot of exploring. My natural inclination was to bring a bike along, but I was quickly discouraged by the steep asking prices from the airlines and parcel carriers. Even the 26" folding bike frame I own would have been considered "oversized" and subject to their steep penalties. Renting a bike for a three-week span of time would have also cost a small fortune.

My solution: find a cheap beater bike on Craigslist, ride it for the duration of my stay and unload it as I prepared to leave.

I started seriously surfing the Portland craigslist a few days before my departure. Several promising bikes were gone the day they were listed. It seemed that used bikes moved fast around there. I found an ad for a Skykomish Granite Point, a Pacific NW regional brand mountain bike with Shimano Deore components, a huge seat, a pair of clip-on fenders, and an asking price of $60. I called the number in the ad. The woman who answered still had the bike and was willing to hold it a couple of days and meet me somewhere after my flight arrived. We stayed in touch by phone and arranged a meetup.

Upon arrival at PDX Airport, I took the MAX light rail to a nearby stop and met the seller (and her father, a wise precaution for a rendezvous with some random stranger from across the country) in a nearby parking lot. The bike (and for that matter, the seller) did not disappoint in person. It was a solid machine that looked to be of an early 1990's vintage, with Tange Chromoly frame and forks, Shimano Deore components, and a paint job that was even more obnoxiously bright than in the photo. The only downsides I could see were excessively brake-worn rims, a clunky adjustable stem and the aforementioned huge seat, which proved as chafingly uncomfortable as I had imagined. It was easily worth $60 or more, especially given how cool and accommodating the seller had been.

I paid and thanked the young woman and hopped back on the MAX. Upon arriving in downtown Portland, I got off and quickly found an upscale bike shop. I bought a big Wald basket (under $20 new) and proceeded to crudely and quickly install it on my new Skykomish right on the sidewalk in front of the bike shop. I later refined and lowered my quickie basket install, bought and installed a nice used Zefal rear rack (in which my U-lock stowed snugly) added water bottle cages and swapped on a better used stem at the excellent Citybikes co-op (public workstands FTW!) I love it when a plan comes together! I took to my new ride immediately, and it took me all over Portland and beyond, on and off-road, with little complaint.

There was one problem. I was growing fond of this bike. Trips to bike shops and bike co-ops had allowed me to customize the fit and specs of the bike to my liking, as well as meet and chat with some cool people. I traded in the ginormous "comfort" seat for credit toward a new saddle that suited me better at Citybikes. The twice-weekly evening sessions at UBI (where students can work on their own bikes after class) had enabled me to get it functioning better than ever with a new 7-speed cassette and new bearings in both hubs and the bottom bracket. The rims were pretty wasted, so that was a strike against selling or donating it to someone who might keep riding it until a rim failed. I did not need another bike, certainly not another mountain-cum-commuter, as much as I approve of the genre. My rationalization powers (they can be formidable at times) kicked in and I decided to send the Granite Point back east.

I remembered that Greyhound ships parcels station-to-station for short money. I don't live far from Union Station in Hartford, so this option was full of appeal. I spent the last evening work session at UBI disassembling the bike and the wheels (I kept the hubs and tossed the worn-out rims) I obtained a bike box from one of the local bike shops and packed it full of the Skykomish, my "Thesis wheels" from the wheelbuilding course, books, tools, and protective padding in the form of scrap cardboard, pipe insulation and generous amounts of dirty laundry. On the eve of my flight home, one of my UBI classmates drove me to the bus station in his veggie oil-powered Mercedes 240D (The sole time I rode in a car during my three week sojourn was still unmistakably Oregonesque). Price-wise, shipping came to about a dollar a pound.

My parcel arrived in Hartford, well-scuffed but intact, one week later. My transplanted bike has been unpacked and awaits future tinkering in the basement. This bike is not a huge priority, but I do have a plan for its enhanced city commuter makeover: New handlebars (North Roads or some swept-back equivalent) new cables, a more permanent pair of fenders and a new set of rims laced to the hubs. I'm leaning toward building my first set of 650B wheels for it, as the frame has plenty of clearance for them and they would better suit the smoother terrain where this bike was at its best. Also, I have difficulty leaving well enough alone, but you probably knew that already. One way or another, the mighty Skykomish will ride again, and you'll probably see it around when it does. With that paint job, it'll be hard to miss.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Brother Night

The past few days have been discouraging on a number of fronts, and my oft-chosen pick-me-up of a bike ride has been robbed of its comforting power by the oppressive heat and humidity. I put off a round of errands on the Yuba until the evening, hoping for better. My hopes of escaping some of the days discomfort were a limited success at best. A dinner invitation from a friend provided the welcome distraction of tasty food and a frosty beer. The heat finally broke somewhat as night fell and I headed homeward. After a few blocks, I realized I was beginning to feel better. The cooler night air and uncrowded streets were unraveling the knots of stress that had tethered me down for days. This was too good to pass up. I veered off course and arbitrarily decided to ride in five towns before returning home.

I had already started in Hartford and made my way to West Hartford. I meandered southward through the side streets of Elmwood into Newington, turning off to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial and a bit of New Britain. From there it was south and then eastward through Newington Center to Wethersfield, where I followed Ridge Road back up to the Hartford line, taking Fairfield Ave and a scenic cut through the Trinity College campus before returning home. It was after midnight by then, and I was tired and contented.

The flashing LED headlight on my bike exists as a visibility beacon for others rather than actually enabling me to navigate well in the dark, so my route was limited to more well-lit thoroughfares. I did see a number of places that I would like to explore sometime during daylight hours. I would like to get a brighter headlight one of these days. They can cost hundreds of dollars, but I think I could legitimately write off such a purchase as a mental health care expenditure.

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Voluntown?



Everybody likes the Hartford Bike Tour. And, it's back again this year. Perhaps you're not just content to ride it, but would like to be extra involved. Here's some information below:



Hello!

The Discover Hartford Bicycling & Walking Tour is back by popular demand! The last Tour in 2008 was such a success that there will be a 3rd Discover Hartford Bicycling & Walking Tour 2010 on Saturday, September 11, 2010. Together the event co – presenters, Bike Walk Connecticut (formerly Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance) and the City of Hartford are planning a fun-filled day which can only take place with the help of many volunteers.

The planning for this year’s event is underway and we’d love to be able to count you in as a VOLUNTEER! The event will again include two bicycle routes; each 10 miles and 25 miles, as well as 1 mile walking tours. We have made a few changes to the routes and we hope that everyone will enjoy them again this year.

Whether you are signing up for the first time or returning to volunteer again your help is necessary and greatly appreciated. We need lots of people to help with registration, set up, clean up, route riding, signage, etc.

If you can volunteer please fill out the attached form and send it to Nicole Glander, our Event Coordinator, atnicoleglander@msn.com or fax 860.727.0055 (phone 860-727-0050) and you will be hearing from us again sometime in August with instructions. We look forward to seeing you in September!



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Monday, June 28, 2010

Bikes Outside: Stolen


Recently, a friend asked me if I could take a look at an old bike she had. It had been sitting neglected for a long time before she got it and had a rusty chain. A couple of days later, I was walking to Cinestudio and spotted this old Univega locked to a tree on the Trinity College campus. I like old Univegas, even the lower-end models, and this one was prime Bikes Outside material for sure. It had an adorably small 40-something centimeter frame-- look at how the top tube and down tube share a single lug with the head tube- so precious! As I snapped a few pictures of the boom-era ten speed, I figured there was a pretty good chance this was my friend's bike and made a mental note to ask her about it the next time I saw her.


The next time I saw her happened to be this past Thursday afternoon. She confirmed that 1) This was indeed her bike and 2) It had been stolen sometime that very morning. Aw, crap!!!

Thus begins two simultaneous searches: the pragmatic quest for a smallish road bike to replace the pinched bike vies with the odds-challenging quest to somehow recover the absent 'Vega. Hopefully it didn't go to a scrapyard. Sadly, many serviceable discarded and stolen bikes meet this fate, where they fetch pennies on a good day and are quickly destroyed by equipment used to indiscriminately shove and stack the piles of metal. On the chance that it hasn't met such an ugly fate, I'd appreciate you keeping an eye out for an old gray Univega with steel 27" rims and dubious provenance. Share leads in the comments or email my screen name (at sign) blert.net. It's a long shot, but it would be great to find this bike.

Thanks. Read more!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lettuce Ride


Not all outings threaten to mangle ye olde she-taint. Today's ride was simple -- a very familiar, somewhat short ride to my garden. Another fine use for my basket: carrying a claw and hoe in it makes for easy access to self-defense tools, should they be needed. It also holds less lethal items, like fresh-picked lettuce.

After one of many trips here, I noticed a certifiable bike rack in the vicinity. This means not needing to wheel my bike into the cluttered garden anymore!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Drive To Bike To Work




Last Friday I was invited to accompany a Bike Walk Connecticut Board Member to Elm City Cycling's Bike To Work Breakfast in New Haven. It was a well-run, well-stocked (good food!) and well-attended event that made me wish I could have attended a Hartford counterpart this very morning. Last month's one-time deal was all well and good and fun, but I would love to see it continue as a year-round monthly event, however low-key.

Since neither of us had the time to pedal the 90-mile round trip and Amtrak's bike policy is a sorry load of crap, we reached the Elm City by station wagon, suffering the mild indignity of unloading our bikes in a parking garage and wheeling them up the sidewalk. The weather was beautiful, people were in good moods and a small set of speakers were hooked up to provide the morning noshers with tunes and announcements from Elm City Cycling and Bike Walk CT. People lingered a bit after 9:00 AM. It was a casual Friday morning to be sure.

We followed up the breakfast with a guided mini-tour of New Haven that included some neighborhood landmarks, the East Coast Greenway route and waterfront vistas.I shook my fist in the general direction of Amtrak (and, by default, Metro North, which is better than Amtrak but has miles of room for improvement regarding bikes) as we passed the train station. I later biked to a job interview in Hartford, so my conscience was cleared of guilt from partaking in an unearned free breakfast.

Right here in Hartford, this month's Critical Mass ride will be visiting the West End Farmers' Market for some locally-grown goodness. Meet near the Bushnell Park carousel this evening at 6 PM. Read more!

Some stuff to do, if you're sick of your bike



Tomorrow is supposed to have nice weather, but since Sunday is also supposed to be nice, you should forgo your Saturday bike ride and check these things out instead.

Manny Mania at Heaven (New Ross, County Wexford Park)

Skateboards are cool and this a contest dedicated to the manual. As a member of Hartford's Skateboarding Task Force, I strongly encourage you to go. Competition starts at noon and goes to around 4.

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And... Another installment of Catalogue!

CATALOGUE Reminder for this Saturday, June 26th @ 8: Russ Podgorsek

Grace, Grease, and Guidepoles

Saturday, June 26, 2010
8 o'clock
342 Oakwood Avenue
West Hartford, CT

(Please note that this show will NOT take place at Arbor Street, but rather at the above residence. Parking is on Oakwood and surrounding streets.)

Russ is a violist and composer. He is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music (CT) and the University of Dayton (OH) where he studied composition with David Macbride, Larry Alan Smith and Phillip Magnuson. He was recently commissioned by the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra (MD) to write his "MicroSymphony" and by the Sudbury Youth Orchestra (ON) for his "Lament and Lullaby" for string orchestra. He was also recently featured as composer-in-residence for the 2008 Simsbury Chamber Music Festival (CT) with performances of his music by the New World Trio and Les Inegales.

Russ will be performing a group of new compositions. There will be a stage. There will be players. There will be Russ, sometimes yelling, always serenading. Russ will confront us in the basement of 342 Oakwood, and if we are so inclined, we will listen from the yard outside, and watch via live feed (love those). We will celebrate the coming of another CATALOGUE. There will be S'mores. And Vodka.

CATALOGUE is a monthly event that showcases artists, musicians and other creative endeavors, and is hosted by Joe Saphire, Nick Rice, and Joel VanderKamp. The event is a collaboration between artist, curator, community and space. CATALOGUEs for May: Dawn Holder, as well as other previous shows, will be available on the 26th.

Contact us for directions or questions: CATA.info.LOGUE@gmail.com, and please pass this reminder along to those we might have missed.

Joe Saphire

Nick Rice

Joel VanderKamp


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sizzle


So, I was about to write a post and I smelled something burning. It seems my card reader here just burned up my memory card. Read more!

Talcum Crotch Rode

After the pious finally reach mecca -- dollars to doughnuts -- a few among them feel more than a tinge let down. Despite tiring of the institution, I can still appreciate handiwork and odd relics. When the opportunity to visit the local poetry mecca afforded itself to me yesterday, I succumbed.

Not long after the Sunken Garden Poetry & Music Festival debuted in 1992 was I informed by nearly everyone I knew that I should make the pilgrimage. Not only should I journey through the woods, across the river, and up hills, I was told to submit my poetry so that I might read there. Methinks my poetry was too fresh for their Fresh Voices Competition, and then I had no idea how to get in there as an adult writer, so I sort of allowed the Hill-Stead Museum fall off my radar after several years of obsessing over the place. Yesterday, after eighteen years of curiosity, I visited.

I remembered that the price of parking was reasonable. The amount of two dollars was in my head. Some last minute research showed how very wrong I was. While admission was free, it would cost ten dollars to park in their lot. I don't spend over two dollars to park anywhere, and given the suburban setting, trying to park on street seemed pregnant with the promise of returning later in the evening to find that my Honda had been towed. I recently read that the neighbors of the Hill-Stead have their boxers all bunched up over the traffic created by the museum's farmers' market. Because of time constraints that would not allow for us to just ride there, Interstatement proposed that we load our bikes on the bus and then ride home from the event. I cringed at the thought of my Jenny flailing around on the front of the bus, but knew that of my bicycles, she would have to be the one as the others lacked appropriate number of functioning gears.

We loaded our bikes in Asylum Hill on a bus which had the final destination of Unionville. Our addition of bikes to the front of the bus apparently shook up passengers. They could not understand what we would do this. A bit later, the bus allowed for a man using a wheelchair to board, which was also a controversy amongst these passengers, as I learned they already had one person in a wheelchair ride earlier. Seems like people along Route 4 have a very low threshold for changes in their routines.

Speaking of routine, the bus driver was asking potential passengers what bus stops for them next. At an intersection, she wanted to know if she should turn right. I get that this was not her normal route, but the bus full of loons lacking indoor voices, plus a seemingly confused driver does not exactly inspire confidence. Meanwhile, I was cringing at every pothole we hit, waiting for the Jenny to come crashing down from her docking station and fall under the wheels of the bus. For $1.25 each, we arrived at the museum. Zooming past the parking attendant was fun. There did not appear to be any designated bike racks, so we tied up to a light post which we later came to learn was an unofficial mosquito breeding ground.

The grounds of the museum are picturesque, bucolic even. We could hear Common Ground playing already, so did not want to dawdle exploring the site. The band did some kind of gospel number that did not jive with me, but then they switched back to Afro Cuban jazz while we snacked on crackers and honey chevre. Besides the music, lovely garden, and ambient sounds of livestock, what was most notable was the formidable silence otherwise.

The poetry segment began with what reminded me of (one of the reasons) why I lost interest with spoken poetry -- the air of pretension. Later, poet Bessy Reyna read in English and Spanish. Her style was more enjoyable to me, though I wish I had seen her perform more locally, where I would not have felt the sense of embarrassment listening to an audience not knowing when to applaud due to lack of understanding one of the languages.

As we headed back to gather our bikes, we encountered the Overloaded Bike that Brendan Hates. The willingness to pay ten dollars to park somewhere must be the norm because we were treated with awe in the parking lot. A concerned woman informed us that it "is not exactly flat" on our way back to Hartford. Interstatement thought she was being nice, but I think this sort of observation is silly. Even if she knew we had taken the bus there, would she not have figured out that along the route we would have observed the hilliness of the region?

While the cars created a traffic jam getting out of the lot, we rode down a dark drive that offered an unprecedented-for-the-day cool breeze. This section was gated off from the street, so it was just us and the fireflies. When we reached Mountain Spring Road and Talcott Notch Road, I began to really miss Hartford. There were no street lights on these windy, often shoulderless roads. The darkness would have been a nice change had it been a clear night without cars bombing up and down the road. I was reminded of why I never rode a bike in my hometown-- people drive far too fast for the roads, are not looking for bicyclists, and quite often have a few drinks in them. It was hilly, as expected, and probably would have been less awful if the humidity were not what it was. When not getting ready to vomit, I was preoccupied with not flying off the bike as I hit an uncountable number of potholes which were impossible to see. My gears starting doing funny things. It was a suckfest.

Around the crossing with Route 4, we pulled into some massive parking lot to tinker with gears. Rather, Interstatement tinkered. I guzzled my lemonade and tried to find my zen place. The rest of the ride was beautiful. The roads became more predictable, or at least were well-lit so that I could anticipate potential problems. An actual shoulder appeared. Before I knew it we were passing the Reservoir, which, by the way, looks excessively simple to ride into during the late evening. We cruised downhill most of the rest of the way home, even getting to see a bunny scamper across Boulevard.

I am pretty certain that I would skip those two windy roads in the future, and possibly also, the bus.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Summers and Governors

video

First day of summer! Yay! In its honor, we should go mountain biking. So, meet me at the Reservoir in the rt. 4 parking lot around 5:30. It's the longest day of the year, so we can ride late. I'm assuming that no one is going to read this and show up.

Also, I got an interesting email from Mary Glassman's campaign outlining the campaign's bike policy. I like Mary Glassman a lot, so I would expect nothing less than her being the only candidate proffering a bike policy. (Admitedly, I haven't been super impressed with her running mate's campaign so far and I worked for that guy in 2006). Here's a link to the policy.


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Bikes Outside: For Reals


This morning brings us a bumper crop of bikes outside at this past Thursday evening's Creative Cocktail Hour. I spotted some familiar bikes about town including the gadgetized Bianchi that irked Brendan once upon a time. Turnout was no doubt boosted by Real Art Ways' offer of discounted admission and valet parking for anyone arriving on a bicycle. The evening was bike-themed and included an opportunity for people to decorate their bikes for the Saturday night Real Ride. Whatever the reason, it was great to see so many bikes assembled in one place.


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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Real Ride Hartford (and West Hartford) Bicycle Parade

Awesome bikers from Park Street


Preface: There were photographers with actual camera mounts for their madly expensive gear, so if you want to see "professional-looking" photos, I'm sure those will be online somewhere in a few days.

Saturday evening's bicycle parade made me very proud, happy, and relieved that I live in Hartford. More on that later. We began at Real Art Ways on Arbor Street. Here, people had the chance to tart up their bikes with lights and random art supplies provided by Anne Cubberly. There was a fish bicycle
(perhaps a reference to the quote often falsely attributed to Gloria Steinem?), cat bike, horse bike, clock bike, and demon bike. Those stuck out the most in my memory. Others were piled with lights and glowing orbs. One gal had a plastic flower on the front of her bicycle -- it dispensed bubbles! I did not get the chance to talk to her, but I see a mobile bubble dispenser as part of my future. At least two riders had awesome camera mounts which I am sure enabled them to take focused, high resolution, non-blurry photos that they are not going to be ashamed of showing to the public. There was at least one tandem and it was rigged with a souped up vuvuzela. That I can not describe each and every bike says something about the turnout. There was at least four times as many people there than I expected would show -- some coming down from Boston for the event.


The parade turned right onto Arbor Street, then right up Capitol Avenue. We turned left down Flower Street, crossed the railroad tracks, and then turned right onto Farmington/Asylum. The ride stopped at ArtSpace (555 Asylum Street) so that we could meet up with people who were attending the Art for AIDS fundraiser. It would have made more sense to stop in the back lot instead of on the incline of the street, but it also would have made sense for the stops to last ten minutes or more to allow for a drink/bathroom break. We did not go inside ArtSpace or Billings Forge, so the purpose for stopping at each place was unclear. In the future, more work could go into allowing for people at each venue and on bicycles to mingle, if that's the point. I'm not saying it wasn't fun. I thought it was a blast. But the stops could have been a bit longer. Anyway, I know that the original plan was for this ride to take an hour. I think the route planners forgot that it was going to be a slow ride, made perhaps even slower by the presence of a DJ being hauled on a trailer behind a bicycle. You just can't take corners fast on that kind of rig and who wants to rush along a trailer full of awesome?

From ArtSpace we continued into and through Bushnell Park, but only a sliver of it to cut behind the Legislative Office Building and Armory. We looped back onto Capitol Avenue and then Broad Street so we could stop at Billings Forge. Since an artist briefly spoke to the group, this stop seemed more meaningful. There was some kind of solstice event supposedly going on at Billings Forge. When we rode through, it seemed like only a few people were outside of the venue/compound.


Here is where dynamics got weird. And by dynamics, I mean that almost everyone in the parade was white and we were about to head further into Frog Hollow -- an area I am convinced was virgin territory for a number of the cyclists. Disclosure: I am perhaps being overly sensitive about this because I live here and am very familiar with the area and people. Before heading back on Broad Street and down Park, I overheard a couple people making remarks about how they hoped the musical selections for the area were "appropriate." This was followed by several Speedy Gonzalesesque cheers. Very not okay. Very WTF. Guess this reminded me that I can not stereotype all artists or bicyclists as being open-minded or aligned with progressive values. Maybe instead of a bubble machine, I could rig my bike with a flamethrower in order to more productively deal with racially and ethnically bizarre comments.


Riding up Park Street made me proud to live in Hartford. It was around 9-9:30pm, I'd guess, and the sidewalks were busy. People were outside cheering us. Really cheering us. There is this great vibe that emanates from the area and makes it hard not to smile, honk, wave, and holler back. A strong contingent of kids joined us for a ways, riding their BMX, department store, and low-rider bikes on sidewalks and in the streets. The photo at the beginning of this blog post is of two of them. I yelled for them to join in, and two or three stuck with us for the rest of the ride. These kids made the event seem more like a parade and less like a regular old ride. Another funny indication that some riders had no idea where they were: I overheard one woman getting nervous about the presence of a police cruiser coming down Park Street. Really? Really?! I got stopped by a cop on Park once for looking suspicious while pushing a wheelbarrow filled with shovels and pitchforks. He wanted to know why I had these tools, so of course I told him something like they were for stabbing someone to death and then burying her. My memory on that conversation blurs a bit. Maybe I said they were for farming. I don't recall. A little traffic on the street is nothing they aren't used to. Hell, just a couple weeks ago, in the lead up to the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the street was used to showcase everyone's decorated rides, causing far more severe traffic jams, and the police involvement was kept to a respectful minimum. The government that governs best governs least.



I hope this ride was educational for non-local or non-bike-commuters, as the amount of broken glass in the bike lanes and streets is something that a large number of people are now aware of and could complain about. There are some immediate infrastructure differences between Hartford and West Hartford. The moment we crossed into the suburb, the pavement became smooth. The only real debris there was roadkill. While a less comfortable ride, I felt safer in Hartford. Cars seemed to give us more space and props in the city. The horns were cheering us, not expressing impatience with us and then zooming past at 50 miles per hour. During the week, I experience plenty of impatient, distracted drivers whizzing past me in the city, but on Saturday night, they all seemed chill.


And then we crossed into West Hartford. The pavement became so smooth and we could hear the sound of our tires against it, which is to say that nearly all of the observer encouragement ceased. While passing one of those restaurants with outdoor patios (I know which one, but I'm not going to give them free publicity) on Park Road, we actually received polite golf claps (not to be confused with booty claps. we received no booty claps that I am aware of). There were a few cheers, but the ratio of noise to people was sorely disappointing. C'mon! Live a little! It's okay to break with decorum, particularly on a beautiful Saturday night in the summer.

Around this area, someone asked, "What are you doing?" to which I responded, "Riding a bicycle!" Duh! "But what for?" "To ride. Because it's fun." Someone else jumped in to give a convoluted explanation of what we are doing. My policy? When people ask stupid questions, keep the answers short so that they can understand. If we were riding for "something" we would have had signs or shirts announcing that probably.


We turned onto South Quaker, then left onto Boulevard. Here, the street got very dark and even quieter. Up in the Center, we did some zigzagging and I did not bother paying attention to all of the road names. Some of the people dining outdoors
on LaSalle Road were more supportive. We looped around, returning to Main Street and then cut through Blue Back Square. Again, a decent number of people outside, but too, too quiet. We took Farmington Avenue down to Sisson Avenue, Capitol Avenue, and then Arbor or Orange (depending on whether or not the cyclist felt like following directions), back to the Real Art Ways parking lot. The only part of the ride where there were impatient motorists seemed to be on Farmington Avenue, in West Hartford Center, and Blue Back Square. But for the few jerks behind steering wheels, there were a number of patient motorists who waited calmly while everyone passed.


Despite the amount of broken glass and potholes, I do not think anyone popped a tire. I only saw one person fall, and it was one of those "can't get my foot out of the clip" incidents -- toppling over, more than a violent collision. She said she was okay. I heard something pop or snap on another rider's bike but don't know what happened. Some shit fell off my bike when I hit one of the many potholes, but the lost items were not integral to the operation of the machine, and I basically knew they were not going to stay on because I rushed the decoration process.

It was heartening to see so many females and even a few children riding, which of course begs the question -- why am I not seeing this many women on the road normally?


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

RAW deals


This weeks Hartford Advocate features a cover story on how lousy Connecticut is about accommodating cyclists, showing that they are right on top of the breaking news that we discussed here in January. Lest you get mopey from the DOT's neglect, take comfort in some of the local bike love that's all around:

Tonight, for instance, you get free or discounted admission (depending on whether or not you are a RAW member) to Real Art Ways' Creative Cocktail Hour if you arrive by bicycle. If that's not enough V.I.P. treatment, you can bring your bike right inside where artist Anne Cubberly will host a bike decorating workshop. Why would you want to decorate your bike, you might reasonably ask?

On Saturday, you can join the Real Ride hARTford at 7:30 PM, which is described as such:

"Art up your bike and throw on some lights for a night ride through our neighborhood, Parkville. The one-hour guided bike tour, with a DJ on wheels, leaves from and returns to Real Art Ways. The outdoor cafe and bar will be open for libations or just freshening your water bottle."

I'm taking a break from working on the DJ trailer as I type this. What better maiden voyage for my new utility trailer than to load it up with a friend and his DJ equipment?
Read more!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saving the MDC Trails


MDC trail access advocates have launched a new site where you can learn more about efforts to fight threats to public access to the reservior trails and add your name to the list of supporters.

Photo courtesy savethemdctrails.org Read more!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scaring people

My bike is a big Keats fan.

As stated in previous posts, sometimes I ride my bike around the abandoned Cedarcrest buildings. They're pretty spooky, in fact, all of Cedar Hill is pretty spooky: animal cemetery, human cemeteries, strange closed roads, abandoned mental institution, abandoned children's hospital, quarry, coyotes, CT Department of Special Revenue (who knows what that is?), etc. There are websites about it and everything. Anyway, since I worked late because of a Council meeting, it was dark by the time I entered the woods. I turned on my light and rode around for awhile and came out on Mountain Road in Newington. There was a kid walking his dog and I scared the crap out of him. And, upon relfection, I realized that I would also be scared by some weird, fast-moving white light descending towards you from a hill with bizarre spooky buildings on it. Even saying hello to the young man did nothing to freak him out less. In fact, it probably made matters worse.

What are they doing at Cedar Hill?


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Monday, June 14, 2010

Paul


I've always thought Paul Components are awesome. When I was a middle schooler, my dream was to outfit my mountain bike with Paul Components and be awesome. I also wanted to be a professional mountain biker, a DJ and live in Toronto. I guess, I've still got a long way to go with my life. Anyway, that Paul Rasta powerglide derailer was going to be the center piece of my awesome bike. Back in the 1990s, that thing retailed for like $325 or $350 or something like that and at some point between the 90s and now, they stopped making them. According to an ebay auction, it presently goes for $750, which is at the high end of what I pay for a whole bike. It would appear that Paul has gone the singlespeed route these days, since they make things that restrict chain movement instead of promoting it.

So, anyway, my lifelong dream owning some Paul componentry has finally been fulfilled, as a I bought a Paul chainkeeper and now I can carry pasta and 12 packs of Miller Lite on bumpy environs without fear of dropping my chain.

And, this morning I was able to combine my love of putting my lunch in front of my bike and my love of the Census:


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