Thursday, December 27, 2012
I pride myself on being able to cook eggs in all styles. I've decided to apply that theory to pedals. When you start with bikes, you start with flat pedals. Then, you move on to clips and straps, which seem pretty good for a long time. But, all the good people ride clipless and you eventually switch. This is especially true if you start racing.
I've decided to start regressing and riding flats, because they're the poached eggs of pedals.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
I may be an ordained minister (and a Justice of the Peace (I'll officiate your wedding for cheap, cheap, CHEAP!)), but I try to keep religion off the beat bike blog to avoid controversy. While I skipped Eid al-Fitr and Hanukkah, and I'm sorry about that, I'm still going to wish you merry Christmas (Kawanza is tomorrow through New Year's, so happy Kawanza and happy New Year). I hope you get a bike or a nice hat. Or maybe peace on earth or no more ATVs.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
I don't like leaf blowers to begin with. They're loud, unnecessary, fill the air with particulate matter and waste gas. A nice thing about riding in the woods vs. the road is that you get away from the things. Or so I thought.
Can anyone explain to me the new trend of mountain bikers leaf blowing trails? If you're so terrified of terrain why would you pick mountain biking as your recreational activity? It's bad for all sorts of rational reasons, but chiefly it's a concession that you're terrible.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
A week ago, a terrible thing happened in Newtown. The limited intelligence of the beat bike blog can offer no answers as to the circumstance, but it got me thinking about my small state. I've lived here for all 29 years of my life and over that time I've developed some connections throughout a lot of the state. That's the nice thing about living in one place for a long. However, when terrible things happen, they don't feel remote, because you are connected.
In the last week of stunned, depressed confusion, I've been thinking about Connecticut. Most tragedies like this happen elsewhere and I can fall back on this notion that we don't do that here. Although, I live in a city with a gun violence problem. It's getting better, but we've still had 21 homicides (I don't know what the weapon was for those) and 119 shooting victims. Not that there's a ranking of tragedies, but shooting up an elementary school was not a level of evil contemplated by many. It is still beyond my comprehension as to how someone could muster the hate to kill a room of six and seven year olds.
And, not being a teacher, I also wonder how someone musters up the courage (not to mention the incredible bravery shown the day of the attack) to teacher a room of six and seven year olds. It seems really difficult. I can only handle one or two kids at a time. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be able to be a little league coach, but two hours a week is probably my maximum with a group of kids.
So, I wondered how this came out of Connecticut. I like it here and despite what people say about chilly Yankees, I think people are friendly. Excessive small talk is for people who don't have the fortitude to deal with silence. I went to do some thinking; this is how: Johanna and I got a Christmas tree and wandered around the Canton Land Trust trails on Ratlum Mountain (or maybe it's Breezy Hill). I attempted to walk to my parents' house, but dad got concerned and picked me up with his car at the Farmington line. I rode around Middlefield and Middletown and discovered Middlefield has an awesome skatepark. (I also rode passed CJTS, which is a dark spot in our state's recent history) I went for a hike in the greater Rockland (yes, that is a Mapquest link, because Google didn't seem to recognize Rockland, CT as a place) area and discovered lots of awesome trails on and around the Mattabesett. I went to Home Depot and ran into a classmate and former coworker of mine. Johanna and I went to El Sarape. Between the geology and Mexican food, my faith was renewed in Connecticut. I probably could have used more human interaction, but I had two take home exams this week, so when I wasn't standing in the woods, I was holed up in my living room writing about Dillon's Rule.
I think all communities probably have evil lurking at their margins, but their good can be measured in their responses. I was impressed that a vigil materialized in Bushnell Park Friday evening. Politicians in our state, and elsewhere for that matter, seem to want to address this with meaningful legislation (Where you aware that you can buy weapons that look like they're from Doom (my violent video game knowledge stops in the 90's) right off the internet?). Regular people seem even to want to address this with action beyond hand wringing. The outpouring of emotion that I've seen makes me think that as a community we're not callous to tragedy. And, unlike other times when this has happened, people don't seemed resigned to mass shootings as an acceptable way of life. They really appear to be demanding of changes to gun laws and our mental health system.
When I was riding passed CJTS, where the Connecticut Valley Hospital used to be (it's a wicked depressing place on top of that hill), I was thinking about the decline of public mental health facilities. I live right near Cedarcrest and that's gone now, too. Obviously, publicly run mental health institutions don't have a great history, but I don't think their demise has done anything other than put the mental health infrastructure in prisons. Therefore, for people without means, access to mental health services may mean that you have to commit a crime to get them. I know of two people with children in their 20's with mental health problems that have led to serious criminal or antisocial behavior. The problem is that once these 20 year olds are off their parents' insurance, their access to mental health services disappear. Middle class people cannot afford to get services for their children in these circumstances and there's no public service to pick up the slack except the prison system. One of these kids (I say kids, but they're like the same age as me) has been in and out jail and the other may be soon. It's only once the criminal justice system intervenes that access to mental health services seems to start. Why do we have to wait until a crime has been committed? That's really stupid public policy.
So, I originally had wanted to write about my cyclocross season. I had finally upgraded to a 3 and rode singlespeed all season. It was a lot of fun and maybe I'll tell you about it sometime. That's the kind of stuff that people want to read about on a bike blog.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Relying on one's self, physically, for transportation. Periods of time spent with reduced commercial stimuli while directly experiencing nature, humanity, and community. Absence of one of the most expensive and enslaving necessities of modern life. Participation in common and often maligned public transit. Assumption, founded or not, by others that you are of limited means seeing that you're riding a bike for God's sake. A brain that is well supplied with oxygen and time to turn over thoughts. The necessity of creativity when transporting objects and resultant limitations on consumerism foreign to the automobile driver. Social interactions, face-to-face with neighbors, pedestrians, and other cyclists allowing one to discuss issues of interest without the insulation and amplification of electronic mediums.
All the while, threats from without. Car and truck drivers isolated from external stimuli, blaring radios, phones in hand, texting. Hot exhaust, rising temperatures, road rage, global climate change. Absolute disregard for responsibility and the safety, lives of others. Communities divided and damaged by highways. Disgust with the status quo. Participation in the minority. Confusion and irritation with the pesky bike in the lane. Fear of the other. Passing too close. Why don't you get on the sidewalk?
Sounds like a recipe for something. Radical thought? I would challenge that. No. A recipe for thought. A recipe for discourse. Comrades. Let us think. But perhaps merely thinking is radical in our watered down and anesthetized culture?
And then sometimes we act. Advocating for safer roads. Volunteering at a non-profit or charity. Shopping locally. Feeding those in need. Stopping to help a blind fellow find his way to the library. Calling the police when shit goes down right in front of you. Asking someone to stop beating a woman. Running for office. Pointing out racism. Not just letting it slide.
Let us ride. Let us think. Let us act.
And now, your thoughts? Read more!
Monday, December 10, 2012
I screwed up. My BBB posts listed IceBike to Work on the wrong day. We will be meeting up tomorrow, Tuesday, December 11th at Maddies in East Hartford. 7am. Right across Main Street from P&W, next to Subway.
See you there!
On the evening of October 9, I drove my 1996 Buick Regal to East Hartford, handed over the title and keys and left with my registration and a small handful of cash money. The next morning, I rode my bike to the DMV in Wethersfield to turn in my plates and became officially car-free. Today marks two months.
Not long before that day, on a late September Sunday evening, I drove the Regal to the Mansfield Drive-In with Schleppi for their last show of the season. We saw Premium Rush and Finding Nemo. The bike movie was a fitting choice. Beyond that, there was something particularly satisfying about sitting at a drive-in theater in an American car with a bench seat, a dying breed of machinery standing proud in its vanishing natural habitat. It was a fond and fitting farewell to the car I had inherited from my father in 2009. The Buick's residual sentimental value was sky-high, but that only goes so far. It was time to let go.
I liked my car. It was smooth and comfy, but I have little use for sedans and I drove it very rarely. Eventually, the battery died and wouldn't hold a charge. The car sat through the spring and summer as I prioritized paying the mortgage and other bills with my then part-time wages over resurrecting a car I didn't seem to need. It was vandalized in my driveway. When the insurance lapsed, Geico ratted me out to the DMV and I was fined $200 for failing to insure an undriveable car as it accumulated dust and pigeon droppings. It had become a compounding burden in my life.
A new full-time job at the end of August was the final push I needed. I bought and installed a new battery, repaired the damage wrought by vandals and others, changed fluids, touched-up, buffed, waxed, and detailed the paint until it shone and looked half its age. I insured the now-operable car for road use. I knew I wasn't going to profit from this final investment of time and money in a modest, 16-year-old sedan, but I had to feel like I was doing right by the thing. I needed to allay the guilt I felt about giving up that which I never stopped calling "Dad's car." The sale itself was unsatisfying, but it was done. The Yuba was my car now.
On that October 10 morning, It rained. A shard of glass on Wethersfield Avenue penetrated my flat-resistant rear tire AND the flat-resistant tire liner within it, popping the tire in the middle of the busy Airport Road intersection.
The tire change made me late for the DMV and subsequently late for work. The rain soaked through my jacket. My first official day as car-free transportation bicyclist was a cluster of setbacks, irritations and discomforts.
And it was fine.
Everything worked out. An empty strip mall portico provided shelter from the rain for me to change my tire. A previously forgotten energy bar in my pannier provided me with a timely snack and a wrapper-boot for my breached tire. The DMV visit took less than ten minutes. My tardy, dampened arrival at work was met with sympathy and hot coffee. I called Geico at lunchtime and saved hundreds on my car insurance with one immensely satisfying cancellation (though I still have the lapse fine to pay, eff you very much). The modest proceeds from the sale of the Buick covered the month's mortgage payment, a practical and necessary use of funds that would have likely met my pragmatic father's approval. It was the right thing to do, and I don't regret it.
A few days later, I rode out to Trader Joe's for an evening grocery run. My own procrastination meant I was running out of everything, so I ended up piling two bags of dog food, a cooler full of perishables and a couple of bags of canned and boxed goods into the Yuba's bulging panniers. The bike looked a bit ridiculous, and probably outweighed me at this point. I pointed close to 300 pounds of bike+rider northward and began the 5.5 mile return trip.
I rode home, unburdened.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
It is once again the sad time in during the year when I have exams. It's sad, because I have free time all of the sudden, but it's free time during which I'm supposed to be studying. As you can imagine, I am terrible at this and sneak out for a bike ride every day. While obviously I have done this the past two semester, strangely I haven't failed out yet. I wish that I rode with headphones, because I could probably find "Evidence on Tape" or something like that.
Anyway, here's a picture of a really, really rocky trail I found the other day at the Reservoir that I don't recommend.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Brendan left out this priceless photo of Ken K riding hands free and cheesing it up on our early hour on the Eel. We both dropped early for other Sunday plans. I was meeting a beautiful woman for lunch and Ken had actual work to do. I know. Horrible excuses.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
This is where the things went.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
If you read this blog, you know it's not very good. We're not very good at riding bikes and we're way worse at writing. After you've read all the good bike blogs on the internet (of which there might 1.3 or so), you come here because you live near Hartford and you want to remember that the cycling scene around here is not worthy of report. However, I surfing the website the other day and I came upon this.
What the fuck!?
I worked hard on that bike ride. I had to drive all the way to Vermont to do it, in addition to the riding part! Then, I had to write about it. You better believe that when some spam blog steals my precious literary work, I'm going to do something about.
So, I filled out some complicated Google copyright infringement form and got an email from Google that apparently they're taking care of it (the offending spam blog is hosted by blogger). However, they're only going after two the examples I sent them and I'm fairly sure that the spam blog has co-opted every single beat bike blog post ever. Even former bloggers like Joel, El Presidente de Chine and Rich aren't safe.
Is anything sacred? Read more!
Seems like the BeatBikeBlog only gets a quarter of the page hits in the winter. What's up with that you fickle nancies? Perhaps we write worse in the cold weather. Too cold to type.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
If the weather is crappy on Saturday, I think I rather go for a ride on Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday, Johanna and I went for a hike on Sunday and it was really great. We went to the section of the Appalachian Trail by the Schaighticoke reservation. It was a new to us section and really great. Nice views, trail in good shape. The return loop along the Housatonic was very nice road. Anyway, I recommend this as a very pleasant alternative to the north of Salisbury, because it's so peaceful and it makes a loop. Park on Schaighticoke rd in Kent right off Bulls Bridge rd.
Monday, November 26, 2012
It's been awhile, huh?
Let's ride another Eel this Saturday. Meeting 10am on the rocks at Hyland Park in Hartford. A 'cross bike will be a good bike, but you don't like that on singletrack, ride a mountain bike. Of course, Jobst Brandt can ride anything on a road bike with slicks. Plan on six or so hours, so lights may be needed. I don't have a route in mind yet, but I will in a few days.
Also, how come people keep spray painting roots? It seems like every time I'm on a trail these days in a park, someone has spray painted the roots.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I have a pretty high metabolism. It's mostly pretty nice, because I don't get too cold in the winter. I think it has slowed a little bit or things have changed because I'm not a vegetarian anymore, because I don't have to eat as much during the summer. Or, when I ride by myself, I don't push myself too hard so that I blow up and die. It still happens a bit when I ride with other people. This year's De Tour was a good example of that. I rode fast with Salem and Jessie and when I got back to East Hampton, I burned up all my energy and ground to a halt.
Anyway, the temperature has gotten a bit colder, so I have to burn more to stay warm. That means I need to bring more food with me so that I don't pass out in Penwood and have to eat tree bark to avoid death. Not that that happened today, but it occurred to me after I ate the last of my food at the turn around point that I probably should have brought a little bit more. Or, I should ride with other people who can carry food for me.
Do other people have this problem? I was ice climbing once (and the only time) and the good ice climbers were telling me about that the nice thing about ice climbing is that you eat whatever you want because you burn so many calories staying warm (as well as climbing up the side of icy cliffs). It's not that I'm concerned about getting fat, it's more that I'm concerned about running out of energy and having to resort to eating tree bark. Read more!
Friday, November 23, 2012
Anyway, do you think we should do an Eel-esque ride next weekend?
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
I did appreciate a man grunting at me to signify he was passing me on the sidewalk as I strolled along Farmington Avenue. His weaving, flailing, and almost bailing off the bike while making a fairly simple maneuver informed me, after the fact, that the lecture I delivered to him about riding in the street likely clung to a non-firing synapse.
Here's the thing: the cycling activists generally know better than to ride on the sidewalk, so sending the message to us is the wrong audience. And doing street preaching at the offending cyclists as they pass generally gets us nowhere because half are in a haze of permanent impairment, and the other half are not going to believe that it is safer for everyone if they would just take the lane.
Security guards and cops who ride on sidewalks while patrolling, not while actually in pursuit of a suspect, set a bad example.
How to get the message out?
Come on out to the 2012 Bike Walk Connecticut Annual Dinner and celebrate your purposeful and righteous appetite. The food is good, the company better, and the silent auction is killer. Thursday, November 29th at CCSU. Oh yeah, and the featured speaker is Dan Esty, Commissioner of DEEP.
And this weekend is another food themed bike event - Cranksgiving. Ride around Hartford, at a pace of your choosing, collecting canned goods that will then be donated to a food pantry. Registration starts at 9am on Saturday the 17th. Trinity College Chapel.
Ride more, eat as much as you please without the inconvenience of buying new pants... unless you tend to wear out the seat.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I like winter riding and I like riding in the snow. I may not have a fat bike, but I've got fenders and I've even got studded tires. I've got some gloves, lights and a hat. Regardless of those things, I've been freezing my ass off the last few days because I can't remember how to dress. With the snow today, I think I finally had the right gloves and was adequately insulated. I can remember riding in tshirts in December last year or the year before last or something.
Today, there's a mild nor'easter. I went to Home Depot and the snow was the big flake, wet kind. The temperature has dropped like ten degrees and now the flakes are small. Maybe I'll go do something recreational later. Read more!
Monday, November 5, 2012
No matter what happens in the next 27 hours, Joe Lieberman will no longer be the senior senator from Connecticut. This has special meaning for me because six years I had a crappy night because Ned Lamont had just conceded after losing pretty badly. I had taken a semester off from school to organize the first congressional district for the campaign that started in the upstairs (funky) room of La Paloma Sabanera, where I had worked for Luis Cotto. That November evening was a long descent from the August night where we were so high with elation we thought we were single-handedly end the war in Iraq and pass universal healthcare. Those things finally (sort of) have come to pass and I like to think that beginning in 2006 there was a wave that started in Connecticut.
Anyway, I'm really glad that I can vote for Chris Murphy tomorrow and truly hope he wins. Read more!
Monday, October 29, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
Not really. We love Chris. But I did take a compromising picture of him on the way back from Middlefield. Although we didn't have the promised breakfast at O'Rourke's in Middletown, we did meet up with a fascinating group of ladies from the New Haven area at the orchard and they gave us cider donuts to avoid the bonk. A stop at the Blackbird Tavern provided the fuel for a trip back north.
And then my sister came to Hartford. We rode bikes, marched in parades (as a Dragon and Foot), and danced until we nearly collapsed. Kristen knits and I tried on her hat. It made me evil. Maybe Kristen will come back and stay a while... All in favor?
I woke up late for the Bike Walk CT Traffic Safety 101 course on Sunday, but one of the instructors, who I insulted in the title, gracefully let me sneak in. I've decided to take this course because I'm an incorrigible scofflaw and need re-education. That and being a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor seems like something I could use in the future once I tire of silly jet engines. One poor fellow managed to endo during the emergency stop exercise - no permanent damage though.
The gist of it is that the road will be closed to motor vehicle traffic, but the DOT should created a reasonable option, like a bridge, for pedestrians and cyclists. I think it's an ok resolution, though I don't think should is a very binding word, the hearing officer doesn't give any reason why people were denied intervenor status and doesn't mention any written testimony. I think the process was pretty messed up and I think there should have been some chastisement of the DOT by the hearing officer.
Here it is.
Thanks to Robert Cotto for sending me the PDF. It was mailed to him. Read more!