Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doing my part for Vermont tourism

As you know, I like Vermont. This past weekend I was up there once more, though perhaps the last time for a little while. Courant columnist and guy who likes bikes, Rick Green, was lamenting the impact that Irene was going to have on tourism in Vermont. Don't be deterred! The leaves are changing and pretty. Most roads aren't out and even if they are that means that you should either switch to bike or your car trip is about to get much more exciting. On an interesting bike ride on Saturday, I encountered several washouts, all of which had very novel work arounds, like a temporary road right through someone's front yard. I also discovered Vertical Mile Road, which most definitely has one of the coolest names ever. I was descending it and it was really steep, but I don't believe that I started from a mile in the air. Interestingly, it seems to be the only "Vertical Mile Road" in the United States.

I also found a sweet abandoned house in the middle of the woods.

So, anyway, you should go leaf peeing or whatever it is you're supposed to do up there.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Bye Bye Summer...

Bye Bye Summer...

Installed me some racks to hang up my "yellow swimsuit" (Maillot Jaune) and mountain bike. To then I realize how much floor space I freed up by doing so.

It makes a good wall art too :) Read more!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Found a hill.

Nothing like Salem handing my ass back to me on a hill climb.  He did just that on our way up Soapstone Mountain yesterday.  Did I mention he was on a fendered mountain bike with tennies on?  I knew I was in trouble when he got quiet and I realized my legs were starting to kindle a fire.   Fortunately, it seemed like it was almost all descents from there on back to East Hartford.

After huffing my way to the top, I found Salem relaxing at the fire tower with several well endowed, yet arguably shallow, friends.   You may recognize Salem's friends from one of Brendan's posts earlier this year.  It seems they've changed so much in such a short time.  Kids these days.

Note - It's prime autumn olive season.  Do your part to rid the woods of this tasty invasive.  Eat all that you can.  I've found it makes a nice sauce and jelly.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Bicycle survivalism

While riding home in the rain from school with a pannier full of books, cat litter (unused) and groceries, in addition to a 12 pack of Miller Lite on my front rack, I realized that the zeitgeist of the beat bike blog is bicycle survivalism. We don't really race all that much and we're only mediocre advocates, but we really enjoy talking about putting our bikes in weird places and carrying weirder things around. Things are scavenged and jury-rigged together, but it's not really DIY in the cool sense (like this, I guess?). It's more functional, but irrationally functional.

While riding, I was trying to consider why we do this. It is generally much more fun to get around by a bike, even if it's in adverse conditions. Yet, carrying heavy loads in freezing rain on icy streets in the dark on your bike is very perverse fun. So, I'm guessing our attitude is something like akin to smugness, but more along the lines are a feeling of superiority of beating society at is own game by developing self-imposed rules to make it more difficult and then claiming that's all possible with reliance status quo. I don't know. What do you think? Read more!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Help others Discover Hartford.

So the folks that read this blog are all hearty, gritty, and occasionally jaded cyclists (mostly bike commuters) of metro Hartford, but that doesn't mean we should overlook an upcoming major Hartford bicycling event. Bike Walk Connecticut, an admirable organization, is hurriedly organizing the Discover Hartford Tour for Saturday, October 22nd. I believe it took a while to come to an agreement with the City of Hartford on sponsorship, so there has been only two months for plan and do publicity - which is a very short window.

I'm doing my little part to get the word out as a member of their Communications Committee, and I'll likely be volunteering on the day of the event. Anyone else who wants to get involved can send Georgette an email, or just show up Thursday nights (5-9PM) for open volunteer hours at the Bike Walk offices on Arbor Street. Another easy way to help is to send bike loving friends a Facebook Invite (or email note).

This event is a big deal for Bike Walk CT, both as publicity and a fundraiser. The first Discover Hartford Tour (2007) organized by the late, great Alan Williams, was a huge boost in membership for the organization and marked the start of a productive advocacy and legislative push over the next three years. Putting hundreds of bikes on the streets brings vitality and the hint of sustainable urban transportation to many neighborhoods of Hartford. The tour passing through the Hartford parks, also brings attention to the valuable, and sometimes under utilized open spaces in this great city. All around a great event. I'm hoping you can attend and please spread the good word.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleanup the river part IV

It's the beginning of Fall, we clean up the river. I'm not sure why we've developed this tradition, but I think it's a good one. So, come down to the confluence of the park and ct rivers at 10am on Oct. 1 and help clean what Irene dumped.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In case you missed it

I missed it, but Tony told me whilst riding this weekend: the DOT approved a plan to put a sidewalk for for bikepeds (bipeds? biceps?) on the Putnam Bridge. I guess the towns, Wethersfield & Glastonbury, have to do the approaches, which'll obviously be complicated. None the less, this is pretty sweet news. Hopefully, I don't move away in the next 5 years. Here's an article in case you don't believe me. Read more!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old guy

Every year I have a birthday and yesterday was it. So, Tony, Dario and I rode out into the wilds of Burlington, canton and new hartford. It afforded me the opportunity to prove that there are cool dirt roads in that direction, too. We also rode on some trails of my youth and passed my high school (the non-artsy one. I live less than a mile from the artsy one.). It made me feel nostalgic and inert. Is it a depressing thing that I can cover all the environs of my youth on a six hour bike ride?
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bikes, Beer, and NPR.

*** Tony C guest posting a quick jot from Ebian. Hoping this is the start of many posts that Ebian will be contributing. ***

After seeing the high RSVP count on their Facebook event page, a few of us decided to ride to the WNPR “Where We Live 5-year Celebration” at Thomas Hooker Brewery. I was expecting a lot of cars, but wasn't expecting that many bikes to show up. We ended up locking our bikes to other bikes as our bike chains can't reach the sign post.

Dear Hooker Brewery, please install some bike racks; I am sure you will find a new group of visitors. Nothing beats a good brew after a long and hardy bike ride.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New park

I was riding to and from Arbor Street the other evening on my one of my favorite streets in Hartford: Pope Park Highway nr. 4. Across the street from Club Divi Divi's, I noticed what appeared to be landscaping in what had been a dirt pile before. There were quasi-ornamental fences, some big rocks and what looked like benches. It was pretty dark, so I couldn't be sure. I returned from school today that way and lo, there was a newly minted park there.

Truth be told, I sort of new this was supposed to happen, because when I worked for the City Council I wrote a report about DPW's resolution seeking permission to apply for a grant from the DEP for redeveloping the dirt pile as a park. I think that officially this area has always been part of Pope Park, but was orphaned when I-84 was rammed through the park, so it's not truly a new park. I have no idea what's going to happen here or who will use this park. It's only reasonably accessible to people in Carlos Mouta's building and the very small neighborhood north of Hamilton. However, it adds greater mystery to an already mysterious part of town (Olive Street (the google map is wrong, Olive Street goes under 84, not to Hamilton. That street is Wellington, a very popular street for dumping your crap), for example!).

It would appear that this new park even satisfies the percent for arts ordinance.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vote (maybe)

There are municipal primaries today in 22 Connecticut towns. I voted in Hartford by bmx ballot. The poll workers look lonely. I was voter #40 and it was already 9:30.

If you live in Hartford, here are some insights. Read more!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another green world

As I'm no longer a worker and now a student, I was worried that all these books would prevent me from riding my bike. In the first two weeks, it would seem that rain has been the biggest preventer. Although, the big books make it difficult to go for a very fun ride directly from school, so rides leave from home. I'm told there's a locker lottery, which I would be very glad to participate in. Also, the wonderful urbancompass has allowed me to use her porch for bike parking, so my bike stays dry when it rains and I can leave my pannier attached to my bike. Having a cubicle really makes you spoiled. You don't realized it when you're a cubicle dweller.

Erstwhile beat bike blogger, Ken, survived the law school and still seems to know how to ride a bike. I hope the same applies to me.

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Monday, September 5, 2011


I think we've given Paul Bato enough free press without even mentioning the name of the victim, William Laramee, whose name has been spelled wrong in every media report. I don't know anything about Mr. Laramee other than he seemed to be a hard working guy and was CFO of the Timken Purdy Corp. in Manchester. Perhaps Bato's proximity to Case Mountain (he lives on Birch Mountain Road) is what he feels gives him the right to mow down cyclists.

Anyway, there's this bench on a road (I won't say which one, because it's a secret bench) in Glover, VT that, in my opinion, is the greatest bench in the world. To get there, one must ascend this rather gnarly class 4 road. It's not crazy gnarly, though, because I drove my late Passat down it once. It's in close proximity to the Parker Pie Co., which has a convenience store that sells good beer, so you carry a beer to the top of the hill without too much effort and drink it on the bench. Also, it's one of the few places in Glover where you can get 3G. So, anyway, I love this bench. Others do, too, because I once saw someone else using the 3G that's available from the bench.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Paul Bato

the courant has this large photo of the suspect here.

the courant story that Tony posted says the cyclist he killed was riding home from work and Paul Bato was driving drunk after drinking heavily at a strip club and a bar. He told the police he had one drink, but the killer actually had a receipt in his pocket for "eight Bacardi rum drinks".

Read more!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scumbag Drunk Kills Cyclist in East Hartford

Found a disturbing article in the Courant this morning.  This guy pretty much captures the pure essence of a Douche Bag.  Stay safe out there, and watch out for drunks and cell phone yapping idiots.

Courant Article -,0,1351724.story

How could we as a society respond or improve things, so crap like this doesn't happen?  If there is alcohol, folks are going to drink.  If there are fast cars, a-holes are going to drive them like idiots.  How would we as a society show that drunk driving, and driving like a jerk in general isn't OK?

Maybe a PR campaign that spoofs manly / cool beer commercials and their fast car commercial kin.  They would star the anti-cool guy, getting loaded at the bars, and then speeding around town in his compensatory fast car.  He blows through a four way nearly taking out an old lady, blares his horn at a pair of cyclists, loses control and sideswipes a parked car, and then parks in the yard - and goes to sleep alone.  Very clear comments from folks (stereotypical cool folks) that this guy is a total DB.  I see this running as a serial, and funded by a slice of the sin tax on alcoholic beverages.

I know I'm dreaming, but its actually not that different from the PR approach that was taken with smoking.  Read more!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Knee Deep in the Big Muddy

This morning, I headed out on the cargo bike to run some errands, starting with a trip to the DMV office in Wethersfield to renew the lapsed registration for my rarely-driven car. Unfortunately, you can't do that any more. The asinine notion of not being able to renew a motor vehicle registration at the freaking Department of Motor Vehicles and the built-in delay inherent in doing so by mail left me in a moderately foul mood. While planning my morning loop, I had toyed with the idea of a side trip to see how the ferry landing area had fared in all of the flooding. Now, the mood-lifting power of an extended ride made it a necessity.

I rode through Old Wethersfield and under I-91 to the northern entrance to the meadows by the Putnam Bridge. Within a hundred or so feet, I saw the sun-baked mud of the high water line. Within a few dozen feet of that was the damp mud of a more recent water level. Within a tenth of a mile or so, my hubs were submerged in the gently flowing murky water. I opted for a U-turn when it it got knee-deep (roughly at the first break in the shade in the above photo). My panniers are rain-proof, but not fully submersible. I found myself wanting a 29er for the first time I can recall.

I backtracked to Ol' Dirty Wethersfield and picked my way southward through the local streets that lay between the Silas Deane Highway and the river until I came upon a trail entrance in Rocky Hill. Bicycles were not listed on the battered sign of prohibited trail users, so I forged ahead along what quickly proved to be debris-strewn singletrack. The trail had suffered a fair amount of downed trees and limbs-- some fresh, some older, and wasn't in the best of shape. A large, recently fallen tree eventually thwarted my southern progress, so I backtracked and followed another trail that eventually led me to the old railroad tracks, which I followed south until the ferry landing came into view. The Yuba continues to prove way more capable off-road than it has any business being, semi-slick tires and all. That said, riding the railroad ties made me wish my imaginary 29er had some suspension as well.

Not surprisingly, the ferry and the boat launch were most definitely closed and the Ferry Park parking lot was submerged. I headed home, wending my way northward through Rocky Hill and Wethersfield, following a quiet and scenic route through Mill Woods Park, Wintergreen Woods, Goodwin Park and the Trinity College campus. The morning's DMV disappointment was miles and worlds away. Registering the car doesn't seem particularly important any more.
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