Saturday, April 28, 2012

Couldn't ask for a better day aka Tony rode the furthest

Today was the De Tour de Connecticut (this is where it went) and a higher power decided to give it the greatest weather ever. Unlike last year, I drove out to it and was on time. Of course, nothing can ever be that perfect, so I forgot my pump in the car. I rode back to retrieve it and gave myself an extra mile or so. The pace started quick, so I thought I wouldn't catch anyone until Willimantic or so, but I started catching friends with whom to ride a little bit before the Bolton Notch. Eventually I caught the main group out in Coventy or Andover or some place like that.

We rode and rode. This year's route had more dirt, provided by a slight different (and better, I'd say) route, and a muffin stop. I cannot stress how good of a time I had, even though though my lead group bona fides were dashed when I bonked going up Champion Hill. I guess Jesse and Salem are the true hardmen. Also, I need to pack more food.

But anyway, thanks to Salem for putting together an awesome ride.

And, Tony rode to the ride!
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Money and mouth

At some point, I was once again lamenting the problems with the trails at the West Hartford Reservoir. Unlike other times I'd done that, I said "I should be a trail ambassador!" You know, that NEMBA thing. So, I went to the training for it and paid my NEMBA dues. Now I've have a yellow jersey declaring me an ambassador.

And, I wrote a report about riding at the blow hole. At some point, perhaps today, I'll go ambassadate at the Reservoir and in a single afternoon narrow all the trails and get rid of all the trail braids. Read more!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Bicycling Film at the Wadsworth

May 11th @ the Wadsworth Aetna Theater.  Mountain biking documentary. Strength in Numbers.

Holy bike culture Batman!  Guess the sell out of Bicycle Dreams may have started something?

Looks like tickets are only five clams.  Betcha it sells out too.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More reasons not to write

I wrote a post about how I don't write enough and then promptly wrote nothing for a few days. I am truly a hypocrite. I did some stuff, though, and it was mostly pretty great. It was also rough on my bikes.

Last Friday, I figured how to remove a crown race with a pocket knife and reinstall it with a vacuum cleaner tube. Take that Sheldon Brown! Drunk on my mechanical prowess, I replaced my chain because it was bent in several places (a problem I didn't know could happen to chains). So, I put my bike in the trunk, stopped at Central Wheel for a new chain and watered my parents' plants on my way to Nassahegon. Of course, replacing the chain does great things like inform you that your cassette is so worn out that you can't pedal up any inclines. I wasn't going to let this ruin my day. So, I rooted around in my parents' garage looking for some old shoes, because I had only worn cycling shoes. I found a pair of New Balances from my youth that had no holes in the bottom, but left my right big toe rather exposed.

I went over to the Avon Land Trust's trail on Nod Road. I found an illegal tree stand, which I took down. I followed this deer trail for awhile and then ended up climbing this rather exposed cliff. It was probably kind of stupid for me to do that. Eventually, I found this big black snake. I texted Johanna a picture of it and she got mad at me.

On Saturday, I went to the CTNEMBA trail school thing. It had good sandwiches. I also learned how to deal with grade vs. the fall line and grade reversal so that your trail doesn't become an eroded mess. I learned that like no trails around here are properly built. After the classroom portion, we went to Huntington State Park and did some benching. When done, I thought we were going to go for a bike ride. Apparently, no one wanted to go for a ride besides me. So, armed with the map provided at the gate (the fancy state parks in Fairfield County have maps!) and advice from Mark I rode around for about 45 minutes before smacking my derailleur on a rock and bending the hanger. I bent it out of the spokes and limped out of the woods. They got a lot of rocks there.

I also have come to possess a Schwinn Le Tour with a strange fork crown that was in the dump for awhile and then in Peter's basement for awhile. Johanna even approves of it. Also, I realized on its maiden ride that the Schrader tube I had with me was incompatible with the pump (no reversible chuck). Living on the edge! Read more!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Winds of Change are Blowing

Brendan accused us of not blogging.  Perhaps we've been riding too much?  Such thing as too much riding?

Before we start, I wanted to put a plug in for the deliciously beautiful sufferfest that Salem has arranged for next weekend, the DeTour de Connecticut.  Approximately 120 miles of the roads and trails less traveled.  Bring your chubby tires and buns of steel.  Don't forget to print up the cue sheets and bring a map and / or GPS device.  It's going to be a blast!

I noticed this past week that the bike racks outside my building at work were full.  Facilities had just added a third rack.  It seems that our Connecticut bicycles made sweet productive love this balmy winter in their dark garages and basements.  This Spring their energetic progeny is out frolicking on our streets and clogging up bike racks.  It's amazing really.  Overnight it seems some people are realizing that the world is changing / has changed and their old habits just won't work in the long term.  Not everyone.  But I feel it has begun.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whatever happened to the beat bike blog?

As we approach 1,000 posts, I guess we've decided to stop writing. It's probably because after all these posts we (I) have realized we're not that great at writing. Anyway, it is not time to shut the light off on the beat bike blog just yet, because exciting things like the detour de Connecticut is coming up and I took an extended hike-a-bike down the Metacommet trail last weekend. And, just last night I had a protracted fight with a headset. These are the kind of things that need to be written about.

Much like I had never been up Ragged Mountain, I had never been up Rattlesnake Mountain. So, I started my ride at 50 Cent's house and went south. There were a lot of nice stretches of singletrack and a lot of hiking. The climbers on Rattlesnake Mountain thought I was pretty weird clambering by with a bike on my shoulder. Additionally, while ATVs generally put me in a terrible mood and the greater Rattlesnake Mountain area seems to be replete with them, they stay off the Metacommet. Also, if you think I'm a bad guy for riding here, I assure you that there are no CFPA "NO BIKES" signs here. Here's a very incomplete Strava of the ride:

The headset story isn't very interesting. It's just indicative of how bad of a mechanic I am.

So, anyway.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bringing roubaix home

Last weekend was Easter and that race with cobble stones. I can only do one thing at a time, so I spent much of the weekend doing family-type things. Strangely, this brought me south of rt 1 for three days in a row. That has never happened before or at least it hasn't happened in a way in which I slept in my bed every night. I'm not sure why this would be of interest to anyone, but it did involve riding my bike a lot. On Friday, I rode to Milford. Then on roubaix day, I rode to old saybrook with a kielbasa in my bag. Going south ends up making for very nice rides, but I almost never go that way unless I have to. Also roubaix-related, I tore a crazy hole in my tubular on rt. 1 in Old Saybrook right near my grandma's house. Now I have no spare. Anybody have an extra?

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Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Easier Than You Think

With an early Spring and $4 gasoline there are welcome new rumblings around the water cooler.  A perfect storm that lines up with the efforts of Bike Walk Connecticut, the statewide bicycle advocacy organization, to grow their successful Bike to Work program.  The Connecticut Bike to Work events started back in 2004 in downtown Hartford, and grew to include satellite events in the surrounding towns.  This year Bike Walk CT is donning the "statewide" mantle and promoting bicycle commuting across the vast lands of Connecticut.

Being a non-profit organization with limited resources, the statewide Bike to Work campaign doesn't include bagels and coffee in every little CT town, although many non-metro Hartford cities are now holding events.  For example New Haven and the Elm City Cyclists have a very well organized Bike to Work program.  Other cites interested in joining can contact Sandy Fry, who has all the details you'll need to set up a satellite event.  All you'll need is a food sponsor (employer, city, or yourself), a folding table, and some sweat equity. 
For those that don't have a local Bike to Work Event but still want to get in on the movement, we present to you -- the power of the internet.  Bike Walk CT has oddles of resources on their website for first timers.  Connecticut will also be competing in the National Bike Challenge.  The Challenge puts Connecticut head to head against other states, and hopefully the cyclists in our great state won't leave us with some embarrassing rankings. 

The Bike Challenge website gives you the tools to track miles, set up corporate teams, and show the nation that CT is serious about bicycle commuting.  I'm personally interested in the corporate challenge, and am certain that Pratt and Whitney will dominate the leaderboard.  Engineers respond quickly to the pocketbook pressure of high gas prices, and our bicycle racks are already overflowing.

Let's bike to work Connecticut.  It's easier than you think!

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bike racks come downtown en masse

I think some early beat bike blog post was about a coworker and me wondering around downtown, marking spots on the sidewalk and then making a map of where to put bike racks. This was like four years ago. There were subsequent spreadsheets and meetings and boring government things you don't want to know about it. Then, nothing happened.

I gave up on the whole concept of anything ever happening, but I got an email from Kevin Sullivan (the ccba guy, not former lt. Governor) earlier this week declaring that some had gone in and they're going to continue to put them in this week. I haven't seen any yet with my own eyes, but I saw a picture of some in front of the library. Why the library got priority, I don't know, seeing how they already had some by the arch street entrance and there's a city hall bike rack right there, too.

Anyway, I'm going to stop complaining in the hopes that I can stop locking my bike to trash cans.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

A recreational update

Quick update: SB 445 didn't get even get called for a vote in committee. Looks like we can be as irresponsible as we like on our sidewalks and can't sue the City.

It's also quite a boon for the boardwalk time trial / one on one race that Salem hopes to have some day, as long as as it doesn't go to Manchester. Read more!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More recreational land use liability

Remember how recreational land use reform was supposed to be a foregone conclusion after last legislative session? Well, it's not. There's a new bill SB 445. It seeks to undo a bunch of the good stuff that happen last time around. My reading is that the bill last time, PL 11-211, exempted activities and owners from liability except in cases of recklessness or gross negligence. This new bad bill seems to remove different types of lands, like sidewalks, boardwalks and beaches from the exemption.

Here's a letter that Dario and I sent to the Judiciary Committee:

March 29, 2012
Joint Committee on Judiciary
Room 2500, Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106
 Members of the Judiciary Committee,
Last year the Connecticut General Assembly made the right decision by reforming municipal recreational liability in our state. Municipalities and quasi-public agencies like the Metropolitan District Commission can continue to keep their lands open to the public for recreational enjoyment without the fear of lawsuits except in the most unreasonable or reckless circumstances. This is a win for people who enjoy the outside as well as for tax or rate payers. 
SB 445, AN ACT CONCERNING LIABILITY FOR THE RECREATIONAL USE OF LAND, seeks to undo the progress made last year by exempting areas such as beaches, boardwalks and sidewalks from the lands immune from normal negligence claims. Much of the testimony last year encouraging reform came from people who enjoy using walking paths or bike paths. This bill would revert to the bad old days of two years ago and encourage trails to be closed once more. 
We urge the Judiciary Committee to vote this bill down. This same issue was addressed last year and an almost unanimous legislature listened to the people and their desire to keep our parks and woods open to public use. Please respect that and vote down SB 445.

Here's CTNEMBA's take:

Please Send Comments Opposing SB. 445 to the Judiciary Committee.Last year NEMBA, along with many other outdoor and environmental organizations, succeeded in strengthening the protections offered to landowners and municipalities who allowed free public access to their lands and trails.   The bill successfully became law last year. P.L. 11-211 -- a great victory for the trails community.Now there are efforts to cut back protections offered to municipalities that allow free and public recreation on their land..  A new bill, SB. 445, is currently in the Judiciary Committee that would exempt boardwalks, beaches and sidewalks from municipal protection.  The JC will make a determination by Monday about whether to let it go on to the state senate.  Yesterday, I gave testimony along side our other partners in theConnecticut trails community, and now I ask your help too.We urge CT mountain bikers (and anyone who enjoys open space) to contact the Judiciary Committee chair and other committee members and ask them to oppose “SB. 445- An Act Concerning Liability for the Recreational Use of Land.”Consider mentioning the following points in your own words
  • The process of strengthening of the Recreational Use Statute was thorough and exhaustive. P.L. 11-211 passed overwhelmingly and was the result of widespread bipartisan support. There is no need to revisit this legislation at such an early date.  
  • Exempting boardwalks, beaches and sideways from the protections would once again make municipalities consider not allowing public recreation on their lands. It would make them consider not investing in more open space since to do so would increase their liability concerns.  
  • Boardwalks on primitive natural surface singletrack trails are simple structures, sometimes only a couple of planks of wood laying over a patch of mud. They are low-impact structures designed to protect the wetland resource and allow people more easy traverse a muddy section of trail. They should not be made the target of slip and fall litigation.  
  • Beaches can be interpreted as any rocky or sandy access point to a water body, be it an inland stream or pond or the Long Island Sound. Exempting beaches from liability protections would make municipalities consider preventing free public access to their waterways. 
  • Sidewalks may abutt or be part of paved bikepaths. They should not become a liability target that would dissuade municipalities from creating more bike facilities. 
Please send your comments to members of the Judiciary Committee by Sunday night, April 1st.Here’s how to contact members of the Judiciary Committee: read SB 445:

Time may be running out to contact the Judiciary, but you can always contact your State Rep or Senator to tell them to vote against the bill if it makes it into their committee or to a floor vote (hopefully it doesn't make it to a floor vote).
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