Thursday, January 31, 2013

WTF?

There are TWO bike centric events next week in downtown Hartford.  Just found out about the East Coast Greenway info / social yesterday.

Tues, February 5th - Reveal the Path movie has just about sold out. Limited number of tickets are available online.  We'll be meeting before the movie for happy hour at Arch St Tavern.

Thurs, Feb 7th - East Coast Greenway social get-together (also featuring Bike-Walk CT) and presentations, Thurs Feb 7th 6-9 pm.  Newly minted Spotlight Cinemas and Bistro on Columbus @ Front Street Downtown Hartford. Get up to speed on ECG progress in CT and elsewhere, an statewide bike & walk endeavors. Please share this with bike-minded people.  The ECG is extra special and it needs an army of supporters and advocates to keep the pressure on to close the gaps.

Huzzah CT!  Huzzah Hartford!  Maybe a few folks will even ride or walk...

Read more!

Bizarre winters, my fault?


I was thinking today that back when I used to drive more (~25,000 miles/year), winters were much more normal. I remember this because I was bad at driving in the snow. Or, I bought bad tires. Or, a combination of the two. Now, I drive very little (~5,000-6,000 miles/year [Ed. note: I overestimated, it's about ~4,000-5,000. Dario gave me a hard time about driving too much]). It seems that the extra carbon I added to the air was what was keeping the weather regular. Or, it's because I moved to Hartford. Either way, it is definitely me to blame and no external forces.

Read more!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Planning. Planning for when everyone else rides again.

Good people of Connecticut.  Your bikes are once again lonely.  The bicycle also experiences seasonally affected disorder (bike-SAD).  I've noticed a few more winter cyclists / commuters on the roads this year, but it's still pretty damn sad compared to other burgeoning bike commuter cities such as NYC, Boston, Chicago, and the micro-urban Champaign-Urbana, IL.  Step it up CT cyclists.  If you can drive 2-3 hours north to ski every weekend, you sure as hell can put on the same clothes for a 3-4 mile bike ride to work on a regular basis.   Most days the roads are perfectly clear, no special bike equipment needed..

One thing I've learned at my work a day job that there are different ways to motivate folks.  Most effective is usually friendly encouragement and flattery.  Then there are those that won't move unless you berate them or embarrass them.  Not my favorite thing to do, but hey, whatever works.  Consider yourself berated.

Salem is already planning the 2013 Detour de Connecticut.  He's even pre-blogging with anticipation.  Salem is the premier advocate of back tracks and cut throughs in this compact, yet complex state.  You'll be amazed at the trails you didn't even know about.  Not to mention the undiscovered states of mind that will be experienced after 115 miles of mixed terrain riding.

BikeWalkCT is already busy planning for when the more delicate cyclists finally dust off the bikes and take them back off the hooks in the garage.  There is the CT Bike Summit planned for April 27th in New Haven.  The official Bike to Work events in Hartford metro kick back off either in April or May (not sure which).  Bike Walk CT has already started planning this summer's events.  The intrepid souls in New Haven have maintained a monthly Bike to Work event through the winter.  I've organized a couple informal IceBike to Work events in East Hartford, and downtown Hartford has threatened to do the same.

Oh yeah.  If you haven't gotten tickets yet for the screening of Reveal the Path in Hartford, you'd better do so quickly.  It looks like it will sell out in pre-sales and not have any tickets available at the door. Read more!

Solitude



For some reason, those who ride the woods in the cold and snow, do so very early in the morning. So, afternoon riders like me never see anybody. It's nice and peaceful.

I still think we can have the ice race. The week of really cold temperatures still didn't really inspire confidence on the bodies of water. Near future perhaps?


Read more!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ah, the valley



Out in the Farmington Valley, if they're not trying to pass laws get bikes off the road, they're actively trying to run kids over. See here.

(Disclaimer: I think it is very important to walk facing traffic.)

(Disclaimer 2: I don't doubt the sincerity of the writer and her wish not to see people run over. I just think she totally missed the problem with the streets in Avon.) Read more!

Phil


Johanna is usually mad when I leave bike parts in the kitchen. However, I bought a tube of Phil Wood waterproof grease the other day because it was on clearance at the store. I left it next to the microwave and out of the blue told me that she liked that the looks of it. Buying only Phil Wood components will be a high price to pay for being able to leave my bike parts in the kitchen, but it'll be worth it.

Read more!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Probably not enough ice



I know Saturday is still ~30 hours away, but I am doubtful that enough ice will grow in Wethersfield Cove for my much ballyhooed ice race. I was down there today and there's ice and also many spot with exposed water. This is reminds me of the time Salem and I almost died at Kenney Cove. A story I might tell you some day.

Maybe by Sunday? Maybe a smaller body of water? Read more!

Fallsy Downsy

When I pointed out the "fallsy downsy" house up in East Granby, Ken remarked that "fallsy downsy" sounded like a technical engineering term.  I agree.  Fallsy downsy is the state of being just prior to falling down completely.
 
Winter cyclists are a bit fallsy downsy too.  Well, at least I am.  I have a pair of grippy studded tires, and I'll often rave about them.  They are a bit sluggish though, so I keep swapping them out for slicks right before it snows again.  Slipping on some ice is curiously fun, particularly if you see it coming.  No yard sales yet this winter, but I had a couple wagging dabs in the last storm.  The two chuckling pedestrians caught my squealing "Wheeee!" as I somehow kept the rubber side down.






Was surprised by the two other commuters who braved winter storm Helen (who didn't deserve a name really) to catch the IceBike to Work breakfast in East Hartford.  Chris tried to organize a parallel event in Hartford, but it looks like P&W employees once again whupped the risk averse insurance analysts.  We'll do this again in February.  Symbolically throwing a gauntlet down and farting in the general direction of Travelers Tower.  We'll see if we can ride on the frozen Wethersfield Cove this weekend.

If you're looking for an excuse to drink some beer, socialize, and gab about bikes in February, look no further.  Reveal the Path movie screening at the Wadsworth on Tuesday, February 5th.  Movie starts at 7:30pm, and is preceded by happy hour at Arch St Tavern.  Get your tickets ahead of time.  Last year's screening of Bicycle Dreams sold out at the door.  See you there.  The movie is presented by Bike Walk CT.

And I found this very snazzy "burner" down by the CT River near Charter Oak Landing.  Thought you might like it as well.
Read more!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ice race?



I've been belly aching to one and all about the warm January temperatures. Well, I got my wish: it's going to be cold this week. It does not appear that the five day forecast gets above freezing or even above 30. As you probably know from studying magic or science in elementary school, that causes water to become ice. That can happen in places like ponds or the Wethersfield Cove. With it being cold all week, I bet you that these bodies of water will become things that you can ride your bike on, because there hasn't been a lot of snowfall.

Several years ago, Salem and I rode up to Congamond for the NEMBA ice race. Salem was dropping off a bike part for someone and I thought Southwick was too far away to ride with studded tires, so we were just spectators. Wethersfield Cove is closer and much more easily ridden to with studded tires, so we should have an ice race of our own here this weekend.

Should we do this on Saturday? Would it be awesome? Would it suck?


Read more!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Riding for the camera



At some point, my mom read about how cyclists with GoPro cameras have caught hit and run drivers. So for Christmas, my parents got me one. It was very nice of them. However, I am fairly certain that my mom never saw the videos for which these cameras are actually intended. You know, like these. Or the one where the guy jumps from space.

As you know, I'm a pretty crappy mountain biker, so there's no reason that you'd want to watch me pedal around in the woods. Yet, the little camera is pretty fun to play with, so I've been attaching it to things while I'm riding.


Read more!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Salem's wheel exploded



I went for a ride with Salem today. It was pretty typical: we wore wool, had old mountain bikes and we were talking about boards of assessment appeals. Then, his wheel exploded. Despite our many panniers, no one had brought an extra wheel. So, we rode back to Salem's place, he, on a damaged, tireless rim.

Was your bike ride that exciting today?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Local bike "advocate" wants bikes off the road

 Not off the road in the cool mountain biking sense.

This, from Simsbury Patch, appears to be the best reporting so far on the stupid single-file rule that's proposed.

As you know, we've got SB 103, because one cop in Simsbury hates bikes and called  up Sen. (and fellow Canton officer) Witkos. That doesn't make me happy, but I can understand that process. I've done enough political things to understand that one person's well placed call can create legislation and maybe even pass it.

What got me about the Patch article is that the guy who runs Simsbury's bank share program thinks it's great idea.
Simsbury Free Bike Director and bicycling advocate Larry Linonis feels that the proposed legislation is necessary for the safety of bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians on the roads and multi-use paths.
"Many of our roads are so narrow that it forces drivers to cross over the center line when people ride side by side," Linonis said.
State law requires motorists to yield three feet when passing bicycle riders, which is not always possible when two riders are occupying several feet of the roadway, Linonis said.
Linonis' opinion is not one that is shared by all local bike advocates.
"My opinion is my own," Linonis said. "Most of us feel we should be policing ourselves, but we're doing a terrible job of that."
I understand that this organization lends out bike and it seems like their primary is use to be ridden along the bike path in Simsbury. As an advocate, I am unaware of what they do.

I know of no one else who rides a bike that feels this way, but I 'm certain that those in favor of forcing bikes off the road are going to quote Linonis to no end.

The thing that gets me about SB 103 is that the existing laws are already designed to limit cyclist's position on the road-- two abreast only when it's not impeding the flow of traffic and as far right as practicable. I don't understand what needs to change, but apparently the meager growth of cycling in the Farmington Valley means that we need to put a stop to it immediately.

I would also like to see some stats of tickets for violating the 3 foot rule in Simsbury. If this one town is granted the ability to ruin it for the rest of us, I'd at least like to see that they're enforcing the one safety measure for cyclists to the fullest extent possible.

Since it is highly doubtful that Witkos is going to change his mind about the bill, contact your senator or representative, testify at some public hearings in front of the Transportation Committee, talk to your friends and family, ride a bike two abreast in a courteous way, find a viable D to run against Witkos in 2014, practice acts of civil disobedience or do whatever else you feel will help the cause. Read more!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Comrades. It is time to act.

Bill SB 103 now in Transportation Committee: AN ACT REQUIRING BICYCLISTS TO RIDE SINGLE FILE ON A PUBLIC ROAD. We need a united action to prevent this bill from progressing to the next step. Ask senator Witkos (nicely) to retract the bill before the Friday deadline by calling 1-800-842-1421 and his legislative aid, Patty Askham at 860-240-0436.  You can also contact state senator Witkos electronically here. 

Senator Witkos introduced the bill and represents the eigth district, which includes Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.  Simsbury, oddly, was Connecticut's first Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community.

Reason why - The current statute already addresses the issue. The current law states "Persons riding two abreast, as provided in this subsection, shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane." I agree with Sen. Wilkos that is is a problem if somebody is trying to pass side-by-side riders and also give 3 feet. But the current law already addresses this -if we are not going the speed limit, then we are impeding traffic if riding 2 abreast (with the exception of some unusual circumstances), so we should courteously move to single file to allow the faster vehicle to pass. They don't need a new bill, that causes unnecessary restrictions for responsible cyclists. They could address the sponsor's issue by enforcing the current statute.

Let's get this squashed!  Spread the word to your cycling friends.  Tweet.  Facebook.  Smoke signals.

Read more!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Two Cheers for Anarchism and for Cycling, too!

Dario joins us again with a guest post!



I read a book recently that I think might be of interest to some of our Beat Bike Blog readers. Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2012) by James C. Scott, a distinguished Yale anthropologist, is a highly readable and thought provoking reflection on the importance of anarchist thinking in different spheres of life. Although Scott does not discuss cycling culture in his book, many of his points are relevant, especially to cyclists who commute regularly and who are passionate cyclists. So, after briefly summarizing some of the books contents, I'd like to relate it back to cycling and, in particular, to Tony C.'s interesting post about cycling and radical thought (See Dec. 12).

The first part of the title might be slightly misleading for some readers. Two Cheers for Anarchism is not a manifesto for political anarchism as we might think, although Scott does refer back to some of the historic thinkers and movements in his preface. Nor is Scott a crass libertarian, inveighing against big government and taxes and claiming that the free market is the solution to all of our social and economic problems. The second part of his book's title more accurately captures the objects of his reflections: autonomy, dignity, and meaningful work and play. Written in a conversant style and divided into short chapters which he aptly calls fragments, Scott roams freely and widely, moving from topic to topic like a moral essay in the style of Montaigne or of the French philosophes. Among his many topics, he discusses the importance of insubordination in organizations, the pathologies of institutional life, society's bizarre and often unproductive notions of quantity (as opposed to quality), and the importance of breaking rules. I especially enjoyed his fragment (no. 11) in which he describes how in the immediate aftermath of WWII Danish architects designed a playground for children in a public housing project in Emdrup that promoted creativity. Rather than build a conventional playground with swings, seesaws, etc... these Danish planners noticed that children had more fun and were more active when they were simply given the raw building materials to build their own playground. The same kind of creative autonomy can be seen in certain toys of our youth, such as Legos building blocks (and for you older readers, Erector sets). In the same fragment, Scott goes on to explain why Maya Lin's Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. is such an effective piece of public art: "I believe that a great part of the memorial's symbolic power is its capacity to honor the dead with an openness that allows all visitors to impress on it their own unique meanings, their own histories, their own memories." (p.62) Many of Scott's reflections, such as the two that I just reported, will seem like commonsense to readers, but they aren't any less insightful and truthful. His merit is to have written a cohesive narrative of how basic themes of anarchist thinking are present in our own society and in people who wouldn't see themselves as anarchists.

Passionate and committed cyclists can relate to many of Scott's points and our experience can also enrich some of his reflections. For example, the creative freedom of wandering we've all felt as cyclists. One of my great pleasures is exploring the urban wilderness of Hartford with friends, discovering new paths, stopping to observe vistas of the CT River that are precluded to car drivers, and learning about how much the city has to offer. And think of the qualitative contacts we make daily because we are more exposed to pedestrians and to the environment. I couldn't help thinking about Tony's post, that cycling promotes radical thinking, not necessarily and only in the political connotation of Left wing radicalism. Rather, cycling promotes radical thought in the real sense of the word. It promotes a "rootedness", a qualitatively different experience from the alienation of consumerism. Are all cyclists anarchists therefore? I don't know. I do believe that cycling does promote individual creativity and resourcefulness that seem to be a hallmark of anarchist thinking. Read more!

I had a dream



In furtherance of the notion that I'm a boring person, I had a dream last night about the beat bike blog. In the dream, there was the greatest blog post of all time about some bike ride. We had three different people write perspectives on this ride. They were really well written and interesting. I think that was pretty much the whole dream.

What does this say about me? Read more!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter bike culture in CT - Bring it!


Hartford and East Hartford IceBike to Work
Next week.  Wednesday, January 16th.  A group of hardy winter bike commuters will be meeting up for breakfast at 7AM (or thereabouts).  Nothing formal, just tasty breakfast (and coffee) and hearty banter.

In East Hartford we'll be meeting at Maddies right across Main Street from Pratt & Whitney.  In Hartford they'll be meeting up at JoJo's on Pratt Street.

This month we'll be talking about riding in slush, ice, and snow.  What tires do you run?  Have you taken a digger yet this season?

Reveal the Path - Movie Screening and Bike Walk CT Social

Hey folks - We're screening a bike film Tuesday, February 5th at the Wadsworth Aetna Theater.  The movie is Reveal the Path, a bicycle travel / adventure movie.


Would love if y'all could join us and help get the word out.  A portion of the ticket sales goes to Bike Walk CT, so in addition to this being some great CT bike culture - we're doing a little fundraising to support our advocacy and education efforts.  Was very pleased with the movie we screened last year (Bicycle Dreams).  We sold out!  Tickets can be purchased online for $11 and will be $15 at the door.

There is a Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/126046007556892/).   Invite your friends.

Similar to last year we're going to happy hour / socialize before the movie at Arch Street Tavern.  Happy Hour starts at 5PM.
Read more!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tonight at 7! Last Public Hearing For Cedar Mountain

Apologies for the late notice.
From the Save Cedar Mountain group:
 
We expect to hear final comments from the consultants hired by the town (Blasting and Environmental) as well as the commission's comments on the CERT report recently submitted (See attachment).

This is it ! Please show your support ! Help save this precious resource...
 
TOWN OF NEWINGTON CONSERVATION COMMISSION 
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 
Newington Town Hall 
Conference Room L101, Lower Level 7:00 p.m.
Read more!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Heavy bike with high gears



The other day, I was all like: Ski ski ski! But, it was warm today, so I was like: Bike bike bike! While I couldn't go ride on the dirt like I usually do, the roads were pretty good.

Take the day off tomorrow and go for a ride if you missed it today. Read more!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bikes, skis, whatever.

Haven't given up the bike yet this winter.  During the recent winter storm I thought it would be a swell idea to put on the studded tires and ride uphill (and into the wind) to East Granby.  Does anyone else think its ridiculous that the Weather Channel is now naming winter storms?  For those that haven't used studded tires - they are awesome!  A bit slower on clear roads, and noisy, but they keep the rubber side down when it gets slippery out there.  I've been on some 700x35 Nokian Hakkapellita's for the last couple of winters on my Kona commuter.  They are a bit narrower, and therefore cut down to pavement rather than float.


An odd thing happened on my way out to East Granby.  Not many cars on the road.  It was a blizzard.  While churning up a gentle hill I was passed in the opposite direction by a large 4x4 truck.  Not odd yet, but then the fellow yelled out the open window, "You're an asshole!"  Confused.  I couldn't understand how being out riding in the snow made me an asshole.  Someone later explained to me that he probably meant "Idiot" but wasn't very good with words ya know.

Winter is also a nice time to go hiking.  We saw these very curious looking icicles hanging off a log.  The icicles look a bit like bell ringers or candles being dipped.  Anybody ever seen icicles like this before?


And just today I went cross country skiing, via bike.  You'll appreciate the very stable attachment of he skis.  Northwest Park in Windsor is very nice.  And they have rental skis for $10 if you didn't find your own on the curb last Spring.  Cross country skiing is nice sometimes, but definitely prefer biking.

Hey.  Almost forgot.  We're screening another bike movie at the Wadsworth Aetna Theater on Tuesday, February 5th.  The movie is Reveal the Path and you can get tickets ahead of time online.  We'll be socializing ahead of time at the Arch Street Tavern.

Read more!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ski time is back


We got a bunch of snow. Maybe you noticed it. Before the old year switched to the new one, I ventured out to Salem's house in the storm for some skiing. The ride was pretty damn snowy, but not too bad. However, my power steering was making a weird noise.

We skied Manchester environs and had a great time. It was my first time on skis in awhile and I was a bit wobbly. I fell down pretty early into the randonĂ©e. I noticed my pocket was unzipped, checked my keys and  zipped up the pocket. We skied around for awhile, though I had a nagging stickiness to my skis. We got back and were surprised how much snow had fallen. At this point, you've probably realized that I was foreshadowing by mentioned by pockets and keys.

Since I don't drive much and have one of those big car keys, I don't attach it to my house key chain. This has worked just fine for many years. Yet, when I fell it seems that the car key fell out, but not the jingly keys. I had an epiphany about them falling out after that first spill about five minutes too late, but the section of the driveway where I fell had just been plowed when I went to search.

So, I called my dad, who knew about spare keys and he came the next day after I slept on Salem's couch. Then, I discovered I had no power steering.


Johanna and I went to Washington, DC to look at Ai Wei Wei and eat homemade (restaurant-made) noodles, dumplings and oysters.


Today, I went skiing again on Cedar Mountain. It's a great place to ski, albeit rocky. I think I needed one more inch of snow. However, the snow that was there was powdery and quick. Too bad much half of it had been decimated by snowmobiles. Snow machines?


This was kuh-ray-Z! I went up to this tree that had "DEER ->" spay painted on it and there were deer where it was pointing. Cedar Mountain is a weird, weird place.
Read more!