Monday, July 22, 2013

Making Connections in September

When do you make connections?   In the shower.  Under pressure.  While meditating.  Mile 60 of a century. I think we all have different spaces and situations where the pieces seem to fall into their seemingly predestined places.  Personally, the half hour I typically spend between sleeping and waking, particularly on the waking end, is the most productive.  Over the last week the thought nugget I've been churning has been the upcoming Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour.   The core tour committee has formed, and we are digesting the unexpected awesomeness that appears to be coming together on the weekend of September 20th through 22nd.

Not only has the Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour been scheduled on Saturday, September 21st, but there are bookending bicycle events on Friday and Sunday.  The Real Ride is aiming for Friday, and the downtown criterium races are planned for Sunday.  What!?  A three day bicycle weekend descending on the Hart-beat?  Yes.  The first question is, how does one successfully publicize a three-fold, weekend event like this?   The second question is, how can these three events combine and complement each other in the framework of fundraising and sponsorship.  Each event is quite different but still connected by the common mechanism of the humble bicycle.  

The Real Ride has a loyal following of Real Art Ways folks, and realistically with its current embodiment couldn't handle more than 300 riders.  That said the Real Ride has some "real" draw beyond the confines of Hartford metro.  Aficionados of lighted, urban night rides have attended from New Haven, Northampton, and Boston.  Initially I'm thinking of the Friday night Real Ride as an insiders' pre-party for the rest of the weekend.   Bike Walk CT could send a special invitation to the volunteers that won't have the opportunity to ride due to their Saturday duties.  Any indirect publicity beyond that already done via Facebook and the Real Art Ways website will bring in a few more folks, but the majority of the publicity will focus on the Discover Hartford Tour and the criterium races.

The Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour is a welcome reincarnation of the Hartford Parks Tour, as a fun / fundraiser ride for Bike Walk Connecticut.  Started in 2007 the Discover Hartford Tour blew back into town under the angel wings of Allan Williams.  Last year's 2012 tour was the most smoothly run, but unfortunately ran afoul of the weather gods and didn't get the day of registration that was hoped for.  This year, registration is open a month earlier.  The weather gods hate procrastinators, so get your ass registered early.  The Tour showcases the parks and hidden gems of Hartford, while promoting cycling as both recreation and transportation.  The audience for the tour is vast as there are 10, 25, and 40 mile routes.  The 10 mile route is perfect for less experienced cyclists and families.  The 25 mile route is the most popular and hits the parks in Hartford.  If you need more mileage, the 40 mile route leaves Hartford and samples other nearby communities - which have yet to be announced.  Each year the route gets switched up a bit.  There are cue sheets and the turns are marked / signed to keep you from getting lost.   So that you don't get confused and try to race, Bike Walk CT has rest stops and there is a list of historic sites and things you'll see.  You will at times stop and look around to take it all in - and that's OK.  Save the fast riding for Sunday's criterium.

The Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour is partnered with the Hartford Envisionfest.  Envisionfest is in its second year, and last year set the bar high.  After the tour, there are oodles of FREE things to do within easy walking and biking distance.  It's the whole package!  The burbites will be seething with jealousy, once they get done enjoying themselves of course.

And if you need a speed fix, either riding or spectating, Sunday, September 22nd is the inaugural Connecticut Cycling Festival.  Featuring an "electrifying nine turn course" and a sizable purse for winners, purported to be $15,000.  The official USA Cycling event will include races fit for novices, experts, and pros.  There will be a cycling expo that is sure to have vendors supplying the next best thing for your bike, diet, or saddle sores.  I haven't raced for ages, but I'll enjoy sitting in a shady spot along the course watching the spandex heroes riding in circles - some on bikes that cost as much as a good used car.

I'm not kidding folks.  This weekend in September is overwhelming.  How do we connect these events?  How should we connect the most riders to the registration?  Do you ever feel disconnected, when everything around you seems to be connected?

The following photos were captured while I was testing out a potential 40 mile route this past weekend.  (1) There was a big flood and humankind suffered.  (2) Humans triumphed over nature using machinery and technology.  (3) Man spends the rest of forever holding back the waters in Sisyphean fashion.  These curiously detailed panels were on an otherwise nondescript pumping station just a little ways off the route.


Anonymous said...

Is there a beer thing or some kind of afterparty for the Saturday ride? Moving to Hartford in a month and we're already psyched for the weekend.

With absolutely no idea whether Real Ride is like the Bike Party rides out here in San Jose, Oakland, SF...i'll foolishly (perhaps), and humbly, throw out the idea that this could be a chance to let the real ride blow up? streets have pretty much infinite capacity for bikes...but of course depends on what the organizers are after--

can't wait! cheers.

Tony C said...

There is a cash bar at Real Art Ways, where the ride originates. Usually a bit of a social after party there. Sully's pub is nearby and several of us hit that up last time for their Friday DJ's and band.

What brings you to CT from CA? Glad to foster excitement all the way to the West coast.

Unknown said...

You guys did an awesome job (as always) with the RAW Ride last week. I like it better without the chaos of the fireworks, so I was pretty happy the ride was done without being in coordination with that.

I am very much looking forward to the Tour in September. I did my first tour last year and even though the weather was crap, the ride was still awesome. I loved coming back into Hartford and wandering around to check out all the Envisionfest activities.

I did not know about the ride on Sunday and that sounds like an awesome to sit an relax. Do you know where that is being held?

Keep up the good work, you guys. We appreciate all the effort that goes into planning these bicycle related events.

Anonymous said...

Rad -- Partner got a job in the city. See you on the road.

Anonymous said...

The criterium races will be held near the XL Center and travel on Asylum, Trumbull, Pearl starting at 8:00am Sunday. We will run all day with the highlights being a citizens ride at about noon and following will be the women's pro, a junior's race and capping the day with the men's pro starting about 3:30. Look for the press release and media blitz stating in about a week. This is the start of something big!