Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Found Things

Everyone likes finding things.  Well, finding good things.  Finding things like bed bugs or dog shit on your shoe.  Those aren't good things.  I found some very good things this past weekend.  Kristen and I went for a drizzly ride Saturday through the cemetery.  I was interested in checking out the quarry that was fog shrouded when I last passed this way.  It's an enormous quarry and has an overlook that is worthy of a future picnic.  I can't believe this exists so damn close to Hartford proper.  You can find it too if you wander out through the far south westerly corner of Cedar Hill Cemetery.  As with many found things, don't get caught finding it.

Brendan and I rode South on Sunday afternoon.  He was intent on finding his way to Castle Craig.  Castle Craig is, "reportedly the highest mountain within 25 miles of the coastline from Cadillac Mountain in Maine to Florida."  At just 1000 feet above sea level that isn't particularly impressive, but it was still a bit of a climb for an over wintering cyclist.  The view, although misty, was still impressive.  There was a goodly amount of icy slush for the last several hundred feet of roadway, which was rather fun to ride / sled down on road bikes.

And on the way back from the Meriden area, I spotted a lonely cold beverage on the side of the road.  Abandoned.  I adopted it.  Very refreshing and the small calorie boost was appreciated.

For those that like riding (relatively fast) in the winter and think bike advocacy (or just hanging out with cross racing monsters) is a good time, the Tim Johnson Ride on Washington is coming up.  They pass through Hartford (April 24th), have some beers, spend the night, and then ride on to NYC the next day (April 25th).  They are totally cool with you riding in with them or leading them out.  If you want to donate money or contact your legislator in honor of the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C., that's cool too.  As I get more information I'll post it here.  You can also follow their 2013 plans on Facebook.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ice event

It wasn't good for finishing my criminal procedure homework, but I decided to go ride around on the snow and ice, because it is finally possible. The Wethersfield Cove is nicely frozen over and I rode out on to it with the ice fishermen. It's great, except a gust of wind blew me over. Then, I rode through the ice-rut laden meadows, which was a lot of fun, too. I was surprised that while riding my chubby bike that I didn't see any fat bikes, because I thought they were everywhere now.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When you honk your horn...

...I am judging the shit out of you.

Especially when I'm riding in the dark, 40F rain on my home from a long day at work.  You have to be able to see me.  You actually proved that you can see me by honking, and passing with plenty of room.  I've got one Planet Bike Superflash Turbo (known to cause discomfort at about 200 ft) on my helmet, and another Superflash classic on my left pannier.  Now let's count reflectors.  One on the rear rack.  Reflective piping and stripe on jacket.  Reflective, rear facing stripes on both panniers.  Reflective accents on shoes and both pant leg elastic bands.

You are a dick. 

If for some reason you can't see me or you don't feel comfortable passing a cyclist in the right third of the lane with a center buffer lane between you and periodic oncoming traffic, they should take your license away and flog you with a seatbelt for thinking that you are safe behind the wheel of a multi-ton weapon. 

Perhaps you haven't changed your windshield wipers in three years.  This is a more common problem than one might think.  There is also the buildup of 3-4 years of plasticizer sublimated from the plastics from your car interior.  What your lungs don't filter out gets deposited on things like the inside of the windshield.   This is something one needs to clean off at least a couple times a year if not more.  Surprising this isn't covered in drivers training courses considering how much it impairs vision at night.  Imagine a thin layer of dirty vaseline. 

Suck less car drivers.  You should be embarrassed about getting basic car safety tips from a guy without a car. 

The next time you pass a well lit, responsibly riding cyclist and think of laying on the horn, think for a second - Why am I such a douchebag?  Then lay on the horn anyway because douchebags don't think.  Who does this smug prick on a bike think he's kidding?

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New boots, bad snow

Johanna got me new hiking boots for Valentine's Day, because my heel has gone through the insoles (and below whatever the next layer is) in my old boots. They started giving me weird blisters and I was leaning back all the time. I went into the woods yesterday to see if the new boots worked and they do. While I was walking around and not sinking deeply into the snow, I thought maybe I should try to go skiing. It just so happened that I had brought skis with me. It appeared that there was a very thin layer of powder on top of very packed and icy snow. I remember conditions like that from a few years ago and the skiing was awesome.

I was wrong, generally. Or maybe, if I had metal edges I wouldn't have slid around so much. I think what I remembered from a few years ago had lot of more powder.

Well, anyway, as part of my new quantity, not quality philosophy for this blog, here's a post of skiing not working that well and new boots. Maybe I should start posting some new videos of commuting or something. Read more!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday afternoon

I have always disliked Sunday afternoons. They mean finishing homework, driving home, going to bed early, finally shedding bleary eyes just in time for nightfall, etc. In short, they've meant death, silence and misery.

Today is a Sunday and I was riding home from parents' house. I had a brisk tailwind (on the way there, I had a terrible headwind) and the sun was setting. The roads were quiet and it was too cold for melt to muck up the road. It very actually quite pretty.

As I crested the hill to my house, untrue to form, I thought that I was enjoying a Sunday afternoon. Read more!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pasta, back on the move

It's been awhile since I wrote a really interesting blog post about transporting pasta to work. The reason is not because I haven't been taking pasta places, but because I thought no one wanted to hear about it. I was incorrect, though. Hundreds of emails have been pouring in asking me to reprise taking pictures of pasta on the front rack of my bike, so I have obliged.

Also, a hearty shoutout to the use of Phil Wood's tenacious oil as chain lube when the conditions get nasty. When the weather gets nasty, the nasty get Wood.

I plan on selling that line to Phil Wood, so I can retire to the moon. Read more!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

IceBike to Work and Stuff

I've been riding studded tires all week.  They sound funny and make me go slow.  I get over the slow going frustration by reasoning that I'm riding less over he winter and therefore my fitness level benefits from a little extra resistance.

Went out a couple times during and after the storm this weekend.  Was amazing.  Confused by neighbors who seem to have holed up in their apartments for the entire weekend.  When they tell the grandkids about the "Blizzard of '13", its going to be about how they sat on their butts and watched cable TV and spent endless hours posting pictures and commenting on Facebook photos of their hopelessly buried cars.  I just now whimsically wished it has snowed concrete.  That way we could start fresh.

On Friday, this Friday the 15th, there will be two IceBike to Work breakfast meetups in Hartford area.  One in East Hartford at Maddie's from 7-8AM, and the other in Hartford at JoJo's from 7:30-8:30AM.   It appears that some folks in cold places are trying to make February 15th the national day for promoting this sort of thing.  This month, let's talk about Bike to Work events.  Do they make a difference in the number of bicycle commuters?   Why doesn't Brendan like them?   

And if you haven't yet - you need to bother your state representative or senator to make sure this truly disheartening bill that requires single file riding doesn't go anywhere.  There is also a Vulnerable User bill that is goodness for pedestrians and cyclists.   Bike Walk CT has been pushing the Vulnerable User bill for several years now, and they think they will be able to get it through the wickets in 2013. 

The pictured bike is a 1971 Schwinn Traveler 3-Spd that I just built up.  Shiny.  All stock at this point although I'll probably replace the tires and saddle.  I just love getting my hands on old barn kept bikes in good condition.  Trying to decide if this become my daily beater, or if I sell it...

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Man, you should ride a bike

Unless you live like 50 miles from Hartford, you should probably ride a bike. There are universal complaints about traffic, because most streets in Hartford are no lanes wide. Intracity drives took like three hours and it was seven to West Hartford. The only change I noticed in my commute was that I had to ride in the middle of the road and I couldn't cut through Pope Park. Read more!

Monday, February 11, 2013

We need your voice!

Please contact your state representatives and let them know how you feel about these three bills currently under consideration.  I am particularly annoyed by the "Single File" bill that is being proposed.

Link to more information from Bike Walk Connecticut.

Take action! Complete this simple survey for you to share your thoughts on the 3 bike related bills being considered by CT legislature.

Three bills being considered by the Transportation Committee.

- Please SUPPORT the Vulnerable User bill, SB 191 (more)

- Please OPPOSE the single file rider bills, SB 103 and HB 5246 (more)

- Please SUPPORT funding for bike lanes and sidewalks in West Haven, HB 5126 (more).

And anyone looking to challenge the elements is invited to IceBike to Work this Friday (2/15) in East Hartford and downtown Hartford.  We will be at Maddies from 7-8am in East Hartford.  Downtown riders will meet at JoJo's from 7:30-8:30am.

Read more!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lest you thought the snow could keep me from my love.

I got out on my bike today for a little while. The packed paths and sidewalks at Trinity were lots of fun. After tonight's ice rain, they're probably be even more fun. Sheets of ice are when studs are fun.

Also, I dug out a car yesterday to go get Johanna's from her mom's. That's where the title of this post comes from.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013


I spent the day shoveling, but before the immense snow fell. Wait. Strike that. While the immense snow was falling, I had a chance to take one last bike ride into the dirt. It was brief and it was fun. And, it yielded a pound of cheese and bottle of bourbon. I guess it also wasn't in the dirt, because the dirt was covered in snow.

I took some pictures and put them on Google+, because I really want Google+ to take off. It's not that I'm against the idea of having friends on the internet, I just never want to be on Facebook again. Two months in 2004 was enough. Read more!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The dream of the 1890s

How I look without blood running down my face.

As you no doubt know, I am totally up on the latest trends. I stopped riding fixed gear bikes ages ago and  transitioned into cyclocross and touring bikes. I only eat artisanal sausage and pickles. And, of course, I am an urban lumberjack.

I was urban lumberjacking yesterday by getting some blown down limbs from the park across the street, as I periodically do. I trying to dislodge a large one from a pile on the side of a hill. The branch I was pulling on snapped and I hit myself in the head with it. It hurt. A couple of seconds later I felt some liquid running past my eye and then the blood start dripping. So, I went back to clean myself. There was a kid walking on the sidewalk whom I totally freaked out because I emerged from the park with lopping shears and blood running down my face.

I probably would have called the police on myself.

How I look after I hit myself on the head with a stick.
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wild Life

It was a nice quiet day for a bike ride and as often happens, I saw some deer. Then, I saw the more deer. The second group, of three, seemed to consist of a mom and two yearlings. It was an interesting experience, because the mom was either standing her ground or thought I was a nice, non-threatening guy. I spotted about twenty feet away and we just looked at each for awhile and then she did this strut wherein she kind of stomped her hooves. She didn't bolt, though, and wasn't even phased when I started riding again. 

Then, I saw a bear. I didn't get a picture of the bear, because s/he was too far away. 

I wonder if I'll ever see a mountain lion. 
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Monday, February 4, 2013

Sometimes, it all just works right

Yesterday, I went out to the secret trails in Manchester. It was transcendent. Everything was flowing right, I saw several otters swimming in the Hockanum and solitude abounded. Today, I rode down to the Blow Hole and there are all sorts of people where there usually aren't and they were peeing. Also, I fell down an escarpment when my bike ghost shifted going up a steep thing. Then, I got into an altercation with some miserable middle-aged woman (damn, couldn't complete the alliteration) in Wethersfield. Originally, I had all this deep and philosophical stuff to say about the ride along the Hockanum, but today ruined that.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Blow! Down!

The other night, it was windy. It kept me awake, but I didn't hear a lot of things crashing to the ground. However, trees falling in the forest, sound or not, end up all over the ground. Was it a hurricane? I haven't seen this much blow down since the Snoctober thing. Do trees snap easier when they've got less water in them due to cold temperatures and winter things? Are these questions answerable?

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't always buy stuff online

I needed a washboard, so I bought one online. I figured no one sells them and I'd get a better deal if I bought it online. Ace has free shipping if you ship it to an Ace Hardware store, so I had a shipped to Park Hardware. I picked it up today and discovered that they sell them there, have more models and they're cheaper! I guess Frog Hollow needs washboards. It makes sense, since I wouldn't want to run to the laundromat every time I needed clean underwear. The people who run Park Hardware couldn't figure out why I bought it online for more money. I can't either. Read more!