Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Heart the East Coast Greenway

The first third of my recent Northeast bike tour was on the coast and much of that portion was on the East Coast Greenway.  The ECG has grand plans to connect an off road bike route from Key West, FL to Calais, ME.  In the meantime, it's a patchwork of rail trails, bike paths, and on road segments.  You can pick up cue sheets online.  Several route segments have also been signed by local ECG chapters, for example, the route in coastal New Hampshire.

When you've been futzing with cue sheets and traffic all day it's very relaxing to come upon 5 miles of blissful bike path.  You can comfortably ride two abreast and take a break from incessant 'car back' rejiggering.

I'm going to get off my butt and join this awesome organization.  Perhaps you should too...

By the way, did you realize the East Coast Greenway passes right through downtown Hartford?  I expect this will result in more bicycle tourists calling on me as a Warm Showers host.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Three Rules for Maine Drivers

Formulated these guidelines for Maine drivers while recently touring through that fine state.

1)  Things are really far apart so drive your truck as fast as you can.

2)  Don't slow down for anything as that would violate rule #1.  For example, obstacles such as tractors or bicycles shall be passed at full speed.

3)   When passing a slower moving vehicle on a two lane road, give them the full lane because that's the kind of nice guy you are, but try to time the pass for a sharp corner or blind hill.   Pay no mind to approaching traffic, and remember rules #1 and #2.

Once you've mastered these three simple rules you're an honorary Maine'r.

Extra Credit:  A true bred Maine'r will toot the horn from about half a mile back to let you know they are approaching at full speed.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Mon Goo Se

I rebuilt my dad's old Mongoose Alta and rode out to Case the other day. While 34:16 is not too bad along the way, with flat pedals it's pretty hard to climb stuff. That's ok. Walking makes you a better mountain biker.

The 1995 Alta was the ne plus ultra of Altas. For some reason, my dad's came slightly better than stock, because it was full STX. Although, in making it a single speed, not much of the STX remains. I made it sort of a singlespeed like five or six years ago, when one of the shifter pods broke. It never worked that great, because while I'm a bad bike mechanic now, I was a really terrible one then.

I returned by cutting through the green spots on Google maps along the Manchester/Glastonbury boarder and ended up in the Glen Lochen mall. I love the Glen Lochen mall. I also found that new Glastonbury bike path, which led me to some turtles.

I stopped under the route three bridge, too.

Yesterday, I went to the Reservoir and found another copperhead.

Also, if anyone has the "MON GOO SE" tshirt from a long time ago, you can give it to me.
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Sunday, May 20, 2012


I rode up to Boston on Friday for my friend Joe's birthday. I don't know the area between there and here that well passed Vernon, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover things like a cave and the Yale forest in Eastford. The Yale forest had this really pretty dirt road running through it.

Much the route through Connecticut, when nice, had road names like old turnpike or just turnpike. In fact the really nice dirt section was called turnpike, I think. There are not enough unpaved turnpikes these days. I think a dirt mass Pike would be great.

Once I got to Massachusetts, the roads were all terrible for the remainder of the ride. Apparently they haven't invented shoulders in much of that state.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike to Work this Friday, May 18th

Get on your bikes and ride down to the Old State House  in downtown Hartford for some camaraderie and free breakfast.  I'll see you all there.  There are actually events throughout Connecticut on the 18th, not just in Hartford.

While you're at it, register for the National Bike Challenge.  This is an online tool for logging your bike commute miles where you can compete with friends and other employers to show you're the baddest ass bike commuter(s) in the state.

Some National Bike Challenge Stats:

  • Pratt & Whitney is handing it to Travelers.  Engineers trump accountants?
  • As of May 13th, Connecticut is ranked 21st of the states in the National Bike Challenge.  This curiously is the League of American Bicyclists most recent bicycle friendliness ranking of our state.
  • Mississippi is as expected DFL in state rankings.  Sorry Mississippi, you suck.
  • Metro Hartford is whipping the rest of the state on the community leaderboard.  Next runner up is Norwich-New London.
I think we can do better than 21st.  Come on folks!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ghost Bikes Return

Put back up a couple of ghost bikes on Burnside Avenue in East Hartford.  The CT DOT removed the originals last winter before one of the snowstorms, which was understandable.  The only irritating thing was they took them down the day before I headed over to get them myself.  So.... we painted a couple more bikes and replaced the memorials.  Lots of bicycles on the road in May, and everyone could use a reminder that we need to ride and drive safely.

Odd thing, when I was placing the first bike in front of the little grocery store I was immediately approached by "The Press."  It was odd because I'd told no one that I was placing the memorials today.  A friendly reporter from the East Hartford Gazette, who is also a cyclist, had seen me riding down the street with the ghosts in tow.  Recognizing them from last winter, he stopped and got the scoop.  I expect to see something show up in the Gazette in the near future.

With that in mind, the surviving partner of William Laramie, Linda Piotrowicz, is working with friends and family to organize the First Annual William Laramie Memorial Benefit Concert.  The event is Saturday, June 17th at the East Hartford Cultural Center from noon to 4PM.  The band lineup is amazing and entry donations will go to East Hartford school music programs and Bike Walk Connecticut.  Spread the word about the event with this Facebook invite.

On a totally different note, and I think a positive one, I have a P&W intern moving in late tonight for 10 weeks. He doesn't have a car, and I'll be setting him up with one of mine and showing him the routes to and from work.  The intern is actually in my group.  Either this is just a happy coincidence, or there is actually a wave of young college grads that don't automatically think they need a personal automobile.  I've read a recent article to that effect, and know of another friend that is housing a carless intern.  If the baby boomers and gen X'ers can't kick their car addiction, at least we can look to future generations to adapt as we pass from the scene (AKA die off). Read more!

BJ and the bear

There aren't any bears in BJ and the Bear, but I saw a bear yesterday at the Reservoir. It was awesome. I was coming down the fence line on the east side. Right near the house where the asshole throws all his stuff over the fence and into the trail I startled this bear that was in someone's back yard. It took off running along side me and then climbed right up a tree. It was undoubtedly one of the cooler things that I've seen while mountain biking. I'm also quite thankful that a fence separated us and I was traveling downhill.

I encountered two guys who riding in the opposite direction. I told them about the bear, about which they didn't believe me at first. I guess West Hartford doesn't really feel like a bear place.

When I was flipping my wheel to leave. A nice fellow who probably rode through five or ten minutes behind also saw the bear. He also helped me find the wing nuts I dropped that attach my silly bottle opener wrench to the frame.

Apart from the bear, the ride wasn't really all that great. my rhythm was all off and I kept tripping over things.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mountain bike movie

Surprisingly, the genre "mountain biking" is not that big in cinema. None the less, they still make a few of those movie with guys dressed for motorcross on springy bikes. Readers of pinkbike are way into it. Me? I like those Danny MacAskill and Chriss Akrigg videos and bmx videos. The downhill videos have too much erosion and slow motion usually. But, maybe 45 minutes of it will change my mind.

Anyway, the Wadsworth, which house lots of awesome art, will be showing Strength in Numbers on Friday at 7pm. It's only $5 and perhaps it'll strengthen the numbers of the mountain biking community in greater Hartford. You should go.

If you were good at knowing where things are in Hartford, you could have got free tickets. Read more!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The far afield posts begin again

As you know, I like Vermont. Since there was no winter, mud season ended early this year and Johanna and I decided to go up there. That caused me to learn how to do rudimentary plumbing. Next: bike frames!

I rode my old familiar haunts and discovered that some of them had developed Strava segments. This was almost as weird as having marginal cell phone coverage and the synchronized blinking of the wind turbines after dark.

I also ate a lot of fiddleheads. Read more!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Warm Showers, Freestylin', and Mourning

Interesting week.  Hosted my first bike tourer, Stu from the UK, on Wednesday.  I just signed up for, a reciprocal hospitality depot for touring bicyclists.  I had heard of this years ago, but now that I've got a place of my own with an extra bedroom I'm able to participate!  Stu was a fine guest, and I wish him the best of luck on hitting as many US capitols as he can manage.  You'll notice that his touring gear is - a backpack - that's all.

On Saturday, Salem and I wandered north into Massachusetts.  We came across this gem of a stationary bike (Huffy Freestyle) at a tag sale near Agawam, or something.  I can't keep straight any of the nearby MA cities.  Was a pleasant ride, although Salem wouldn't stop complaining about some inside baseball CT NEMBA stuff.

Looks like Brendan is organizing the Ride of Silence in Hartford this year.  Glad he is, since otherwise I'd have to.  If you're not familiar with ROS, it's a solemn memorial ride to remember those lost to cars while cycling.  The ride starts at 7PM from the Bushnell Carousel in downtown Hartford Pond House at Elizabeth Park and will be a slow, silent 10 miles.  Folks often attached signs to their backs or tie black fabric around one arm to show they are in mourning.

Stay safe out there kiddos.  Lots of newbies cycling this year.  If you see them doing something unsafe, clue them in.  Similarly, if you're riding with a friend (who's driving) and they pull an asshole move around a cyclist, let them know they could kill somebody - and it might have been you or someone you know.  There were several cyclist deaths in the area last year.  Let's do our part to lower that number this year. Read more!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Come on down to the Blow Hole

So they renamed the park "River Highlands," but either way, CT Nemba along with REI is hosting a trail clean up at the park in Rocky Hill on Sunday.  In case you haven't been there, it's a nice place for walking, riding, and watching holes blow.  Here's the clean-up blurb.

"CT NEMBA and REI West Hartford are hosting a trail work day this coming
Sunday 5/6 at River Highlands State Park in Cromwell, kicking off at 9 AM.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided to the volunteers, and we'll do a ride
afterward.  I'll be there.  Click here for location:"
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grand Opening of the Hartford Bicycle Studio

Guest Post from a new Purveyor of Downtown Bicycle Culture:


Hello ladies and gents of the Beat Bike Blog,
I’d like to invite you all, and all your readers, to the grand opening event of The Hartford Bicycle Studio this Friday night.  This has been in the works for a long time and we’re very excited to share our work with everyone.
I’ve created The Hartford Bicycle Studio with the goal of promoting local artists and our cycling community here simply because I love art, bikes, and of course, Hartford.  Our artists paint bike frames by hand to create unique, functional works of art.  Bikes, art, and items made from recycled bike parts will be available for sale. Some of our artists will also be offering custom bike painting services to customers beginning this month.  You can go to for more general info on the studio, too.

The Artists:
Matt Rubino
Molly Lantagne
Brian Burke
Heather Platen
Meredith Arcari
Amy Canter
Patrick Connolly

This event will be held from 5-10pm at 57 Pratt Street, home of our gracious friends at Downtown Yoga and Cycled Energy, Hartford's first green cycling studio (and winner of the 2011 Hartford Innovation Challenge) which captures energy generated by pedaling and sends electricity back into the power grid.

Aruna Chocolates will also be showcasing their ridiculously delicious organic, raw chocolate.
Our friends at Atom Space, the pop-up contemporary art exhibition, will also be hosting the opening for their show, As It Ever Was, next door from 6-9pm.

Come out to support the growth of local artists and our cycling community!

Thank you,


Of note:  This is the 1000th post on the Beat Bike Blog.  Kick ass kiddos!
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Detour to A Dong

A Dong, the giant Asian grocery store on New Britain Ave, is a staple in many people's lives around here. I can't really remember how long they've been open, but it's been a long time and I've been going there since whenever that long time began (I think some time in middle school). One would think that since I've been living within two miles of it, I'd be going there far too much and eating more ramen than ever. But, in the three, almost four years, that I've been living in the South End, I've been going there less and less. While the Stop & Shops are on sort of bike friendly routes, the obvious way to A Dong is New Britain Ave and I hate riding on New Britain Ave. I think riding on that street with a bike loaded with groceries is especially unattractive.

Two weeks or so back, I bit the bullet and rode over there and it wasn't terrible. I forget that it's so close that my time on New Britain Ave is pretty inconsequential. Last night I went over there for a new cleaver and bottle of Sriracha sauce. Johanna and I are going up to Vermont and food prices are high up there. However, the most overpriced food of all is Sriracha. If you want to make good money in Glover, VT, sell Asian condiments (or tofu or kimchi). If you sell them at 250% markup above A Dong retail and undercut the present 300% markup, you'll make a killing! To wit: the big bottle at A Dong is $2.95 and at the Parker Pie store the small bottle is like $7! Not that I have anything against their pizzas, beer, chicken wings, salad, etc., but things vaguely Asian are super expensive! Those aforementioned things are not expensive and I really like them. Anyway, I digress from my digression.

Anyway, I took the scenic route and encountered a man who pointed out some lichen that looked like a panda bear and kept the A Dong trip on about 50% dirt. I think once you ride the De Tour, you will only pick routes that are 50% dirt and quintuple the travel time. 

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