It's a been a few months and I miss my old friend Catalogue. Also, Catalogue is rated one of the .25 best things to do in Hartford. Read more!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Close followers of snow will note that there's about 12-18" of packed snow. With the addition of last night's much need 2", the world has become like those fancy groomed places for cross country skiing. I went off the reservoir for a few hours of skiing and it was awesome. Actually, let me qualify that: off the tails it was awesome. The postholed, tracked trails were kind of miserable because they hardened into super bumps.
Anyway, I went skiing today and had a lot of fun. Happy James Garfield Day!
I've never written a bike outside, so I'll probably break a rule or two.
Pictured here is Dario's Wicked Fat Chance. He got it a long time ago and I didn't know him then. Since he got it, it has shed derailers and is a single, dingle or fixed gear. Next to this snow bank, it's fixed and has fenders. The brakes are original and it has a weird bottom bracket with press-in bearings. If ridden through the Connecticut River, it starts creaking. It's also set up with one of cool fixed/free ENO eccentric hubs (thus all the aforementioned options). Like my Colnago it has a hole in the stem instead of a cable hanger. Some people think that's cool.
It was ridden in the Reservoir, early in the Reservoir's history of people riding in it. I've seen it carried up and down Constitution Plaza, bounce through both of the meadows and lumber through tracts of snowy powerlines. It's a nice bike and unlike other Fat Chances of the internet, it's not a bike shrine.
In other news I went for my longest ride of the year so far. You're perfectly allowed to make fun of me, but it's not exactly been easy to get out there. This, however, was a very pleasant ride with Salem & Peter to points east and south.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
As a reprise to Wednesday's snow escapades, we met up with another famous Glastonbury mountain biker, Al, headed to the part of the Meshomasic on the eastern part of rt. 2 and its gas line. It was warmer and the sun was shining, we busted through the snow more. But, there were still awesome moments of riding on mogul-type stuff. It makes mountain biking a lot more like skateboarding or BMX or maybe surfing. Instead of riding for an hour without putting a foot down or pausing, it's ride for two minutes, punch through the snow, pull your bike out and try to go some more. Salem had a particular intense crash and broke his seatpost. The next two days don't look great for this type of riding because it's supposed to be warm. Read more!
Friday, February 11, 2011
It was the discussion of banana portaging that grabbed my attention while reading Bike Snob NYC yesterday, but the part of his post that had real staying power was something I had basically buried in my brain as I read it. At night, I went to some semi-glitzy, social networking event, and yeah, I rode my bicycle there. I hadn't ridden in a few months and was tired of that, plus, this event always creates a traffic jam and I have has much patience for sitting in traffic as I do for incompetence in the workplace.
Before even leaving the house, I was hearing how basically I was crazy for riding my bicycle when it was this cold outside. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I've ridden in more pleasant weather, but I have been regularly walking to work, and the cold has bothered me far less than the impending doom promised by uncleared sidewalks. There were days when I would have worried less about such things, but I have a mortgage and no health insurance; I am constantly calculating how much a slip would cost me should I have to go to the emergency room for a broken bone. It's exhausting to feel so much contempt for fellow earthlings who are both too lazy and immature to take care of their shit.
Anyway, what I learned on the route there was that Starry Bike, for the most part, can deal just fine with ice. While I was a bit out of shape and winded, the trip didn't take very long -- much less than it would've if I walked and less than if I drove -- and I never got too cold. I was able to lock up at a bike rack (thanks to Tony for the tip), use a locker inside where to stash helmets and unsexy accessories, and enjoy a child-free event. It's not that I don't like some children. It's just that there is a certain pleasure to be had in cussing up a storm in a space that is usually lousy with youths.
When they turned off the lights and kicked us all out to the curb, it took us awhile to get our bikes unlocked. People were streaming by and some drunk (I'm hoping drunk, because otherwise he is just an ass) guy is all like "Oh my God! She's gonna ride a bike." Now, my response was a passive aggressive comment to Interstatement about how people stupidly don't understand the way sound actually travels, and people who are being talked about can hear the conversation too. In younger days, I would've just gotten up in his face for that spewing of dumb.
That's when it clicked. I remembered a key part from the Bike Snob NYC post:
One of my favorite aspects of any bicycling-themed news report is always the reporter's total incredulity that someone actually rides a bicycle. Note her inflection when she says the following at 44 seconds:
His bikes have more miles than his car!
I love how she says it as though that's the epitome of insanity, in exactly the same way she'd say something like: "He keeps an incredibly rare Fahaka puffer fish in his toilet!"
The intonation of the comment was absolute incredulity. That's the perfect word. If I said I was going to birth eight babies at once without a partner, he may have been less amazed. Out-of-control breeding is more normalized than using self-powered transportation.
This is not the first time I encountered this incredulity.
Months ago, I wrote about (but never published) an account of an unfortunate exchange between some Audi-driving moron and myself. I found myself at an event that had jumped the shark so long ago that simply calling it "tired" will suffice for description. I was jubilant to get the hell out of there but had to fumble with two locks first.
Meanwhile, this uncreative, blonde-haired pustule was standing nearby, trying to get my attention. Imagine his lines slurred:
Audi: Hey Dorothy! Dorothy!
I had gotten the locks off, attached the back light, and had to rig up the headlight. Since there is no proper way to attach the light on the Jenny, this was taking awhile. At some point, I made the mistake of turning around and making eye contact.
Audi: Excuse me?
Me: Yes? [read that with rudeness and annoyance in tone]
Audi: Let me just tell you two things.
Me: *rolls eyes* What?
Audi: That is an amazing dress. Are you going to put that basket on the bike?
It should be mentioned that the basket had already been affixed to the bicycle. Three beers fewer and he might have noticed this.
Audi: Where did you get your basket?
Me: My BOYFRIEND gave it for me, so I don't know where HE got it.
I hate having to do that, but my memories of being a pugnacious youth taunt me and I don't want to wind up with a public defender for kicking some deserving brat in the shins.
At this point another woman walks by to retrieve her bike. He begins to annoy her.
Audi: Hey, how come you don't wear heels and a dress like her?
The woman mumbles something back and quickly maneuvers her bike out of there. The jerkwad turns back to me.
Audi: How're you gonna get home? You're gonna have a tough time riding home in the dress and heels? How're you gonna ride side saddle?
Me: I fucking got here didn't I? I rode here wearing the same thing I'm leaving in.
Still futzing with the light, I gave up and rolled it somewhere away from Audi Guy so that I could attach the light in peace.
This incredulity, as described here, can be rude, but sometimes it's more innocent. Whatever the case, I don't get it. How do these people control themselves when they see something truly amazing? Do they awegasm at the sight of a bear riding a tricycle or while watching a child get born? Do their brains explode on spot at the sight of a Tiffany's diamond display case? I can't even imagine what it must be like to be so simple-minded. Read more!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The snow is in a unique state right now. It's deep, but it has a really strong crust. It's so strong that you can ride on top of it, despite being two feet deep. It's also crusty and not icy, so there's traction. For these reasons, Salem and I decided to ride the powerlines down to Portland. It was pretty awesome, like a pump track going on for miles. Although, unlike a pump track, the ground occasionally would eat one of your wheels. If that wheel was the front, an endo would ensue (for me). None the less, it was pretty awesome. Wide tires at low psi are recommended. Salem wore a full-face helmet, because he was worried about hurting his face. He also endoed way less, but he's also way better at riding a bike than me.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Normally, riding with Tim Johnson is tough. He's really good at cyclocross and we're not. Or at least, I'm not. However, at the beginning of March, you have the opportunity to go for a ride with him. As part of this:
So, Georgette at BikeWalk CT contacted Ben, Interstatement, me and so others to help shepherd Tim though Hartford. Salem's advice was to take Rt. 14 into CT from Providence, end up in Willimantic and we'd meet Tim in Bolton center. Something along these lines. The route from Bolton is contingent about snow cover. If you're interested in joining us for for about a 35 mile ride on March 4, send me an email to coordinate. We're going to ride him out the next day towards Bethel (Cannondale).Tim Johnson’sRide On WashingtonNine States; Six Capitals; Five Days; One CauseA bike ride to support more bike rides.OverviewThis winter, six-time national champion and cyclo-cross superstar Tim Johnson will throw his leg over his bike for a hard week of training. But he’s not riding to improve his cycling; he’s riding to improve your cycling.Tim Johnson will ride to raise funds and awareness for the Bikes Belong Foundation as he pedals almost 500 miles from Boston to Washington DC, the site of the National Bike Summit, in five days.Starting Friday, March 4, Tim will be joined by long time cycling journalist, advocate, promoter and announcer Richard Fries, and a handful of other leaders of American bike culture. Leaving from Boston, they will ride every day, hitting Providence, Hartford, New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore, until they reach Washington DC on Tuesday, March 8, for the start of the National Bike Summit.“We want to engage governors, mayors, bloggers, reporters, schools, and most of all other cyclists along the way,” said Johnson, who is already building support from the bike industry for this mission.Tim Johnson hopes to see this event raise funds and awareness for Bikes Belong and the National Bike Summit. Your support will be critical to make that happen.Ride With UsYou can ride with us for five minutes, five miles, or all five days. When you register, we will create a personal fundraising page for you on www.PledgeReg.com, where you can raise money to benefit Bikes Belong. We will post the exact routes as we get closer to the ride. Please note that although we will have neutral support along the way to help all riders, individuals looking to join will be required to take care of their own logistics.
Monday, February 7, 2011
While my fenders aren't the best, they fend pretty well. When it's above freezing and melting outside, I stay pretty clean. However, the gross stuff gets impacted up in the fenders. When I bring my bike inside and park it next my cubicle, it drips. Is there a cure for this? I used to park it in a more out of the way spot, so the drips didn't bother anyone, but now it's right out in the open. Read more!
Saturday, February 5, 2011
If you're a sporting enthusiast, times are difficult. The snow is sharp, slippery and painful and covering basketball courts, singly tracks, baseball diamonds, shuffle puck stadiums, xc country skiing routes and the roads are narrow and angry. Despite these difficulties and the 32 degree rainy weather, I met Salem for a ride today. He believed that trains plowed and compacted the snow, so we should ride on train tracks. This may sound dangerous and stupid, because it is. But, trains are loud and have those whistles. We didn't die and his theory was mostly correct. We rode from near Governors Blvd in East Hartford to the South Windsor line and rarely punched through. It was pretty cool. Then we milled around for a bit and road some East Hartford sidewalk singletrack along Forbes road up to the Glastonbury line. We parted ways and I went home over the Charter Oak Bridge; thinking that it'd be impassable, but someone plowed it!
Friday, February 4, 2011
There was a lot of snow on my roof, with 3-4 foot drifts on the southern side. With the recent rash of buildings collapsing in Connecticut, I was getting nervous. My first attempt to shovel it on Monday afternoon was kind of terrifying, as the snow on the tarps currently covering some of the roof made me slip a couple of times. I cleared off the deepest drifts for a few hours and gingerly climbed back down the 40 foot ladder, determined to acquire some sort of safety harness before returning. Everything closed early on Tuesday, so first thing Wednesday morning I headed for a welding supply place on Murphy Road that carries safety gear. I chose the most direct route that featured major streets, as many side streets had not been plowed yet. Of the streets I rode, Park Street was the best and Wethersfield Ave was the worst. I had a pretty good wipeout on the latter street which left me with a sore wrist. Airport Road wasn't fun, either, come to think of it. It was a pretty sketchy ride that I didn't particularly enjoy.
I arrived at the store glazed with ice and soaked with sweat. They were already preparing to close early, and I was happy to get in under the wire. I bought an OSHA-approved harness and lanyard in a bucket. It was called "Compliance in a Can" which is my favorite product name since "Pope Soap on a Rope".
Having no desire whatsoever to retrace the route I had taken to get to the store, I followed Murphy Road to Reserve, past the regional market and Coltsville. The snow conditions were no better than the busy roads, but the minimal traffic made the return ride much better. I began to actually enjoy myself. The few cars and trucks I saw gave me a wide berth, and the only time I heard honking was a guy in an MDC truck giving me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I found myself calmed and entertained by the sight and sound of slush churning around the tires and oozing out the leading edge of the front fender. It sounded like a Slurpee machine. Mmmm, salty.
The Mundo has been handling better than I could have ever reasonably expected in the snow. The 26x2.0 Schwalbe Marathons I recently installed are fat and smooth, which should make them utterly useless in the snow, but they worked; not well, mind you, but they worked. The rear wheel had surprisingly good traction as long as I kept my weight on the saddle. The front wheel was prone to handlebar-jerking deflection and washouts in the deeper, more irregular deposits of snow, but could be easily corrected in all but one instance. The front brake grew stiffer and a bit grabby, but never failed to work.
I still dream of building the ultimate winter city bike someday, but I'm satisfied that the current configuration of the Yuba can serve as my four season workhorse. There are a few minor tweaks I'll make, of course. I do want to rotate the front fender rearward, for instance, as a substantial amount of slush was flung at my feet and the bottom bracket shell. Minor details aside, it got me where I needed to go and it got me home again. Most importantly in this case, it helped me safely clear a lot of heavy snow off of my house which took a load off my roof and my mind. Read more!