Saturday, March 30, 2013


Is Janette Sadik-Kahn unaware of the Classics? I woke up this morning and learned that the NYC DOT thought that cobblestones were dangerous and the few remaining in DUMBO & Vinegar Hill need to be removed. They'd be replaced with new ones that apparently are of even height and bicycle friendly. I can understand blaming bikes for a lot of things, but cobblestone removal makes no sense. Cyclists love cobblestones. Specialized named a bike after one half of the name of  a famous bike race involving cobblestones. People pay money to go on tours of these cobblestones. Gravel grinders have been the coolest type of thing for which people buy too much gear, write about on bike fora and never ride (kidding!).

I've only ridden in New York like one or twice. I don't really know much about it. I mean, I don't really know much about New York in general. However, I have actually ridden on those cobblestones. They're not dangerous, but aesthetically valuable.

Or, perhaps this is part of a sinister plan to pit the preservationists against the cyclists.

I mean, isn't the problem plaguing cyclists of New York people driving in bike lanes, running over people who rides bikes and then the police failing to prosecute the bad drivers?

The pictured cobblestones above are actually in Savannah, GA. They love their cobblestones and have no plan to get rid of them. Read more!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stay away!

I was reading on Doug's blog that his leg is better and he is back on the bike in the woods. That's cool. In reading what he wrote, I noticed that he had gone to the Reservoir and it looked pretty passable. After school on Tuesday, I ventured forth and it was miserable. Down low it wasn't so bad, but up high it was either muddy or four inch deep wet snow. I felt bad. I'm bad for the environment. Upon returning home, I checked the date of when he wrote what he wrote and noticed that quite a bit of time had passed. I mitigated  damages by getting out of there when I realized they were too wet.

So, anyway, the moral of the story is that much of the woods are still too wet to ride your bike. I know people can't wait, because I saw lots of tracks. I guess I'm part of that bad group.

At some point, I really need to write something interesting in here, but it's almost been 5 years and you can only say so much about riding bikes in greater Hartford. Read more!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Erosion Psychologist

Awhile ago, I wrote a short story about an erosion psychologist. I didn't really elaborate on what the job entailed, it was a passing description of a 4'9" air traveler named after a guy I worked with at a coffee shop in West Hartford center. The real version of the fellow barista wrote a book called Displicit, went to divinity school and became a UU minister. I am also a minister, but mostly for the purpose of officiating weddings in California, where my Justice of the Peace status doesn't transfer.

Yesterday I was in Rocky Hill looking at an eroded hill caused by a new, ugly subdivision. It's right of the hill from the Connecticut River and the Goff Brook. There's probably enough space between the eroded hill and the water to prevent it from silting out, but I don't really know anything about that.

The moral of the story is that mountain bikers should refrain from riding most woods until they dry out more. However, bad subdivisions and ATVs cause far more harm to the environment than mountain bikes and feet.

Read more!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Open for Anything?

Well, almost anything.  And I wish that other things were more open, like Denny's says it is.  Wasn't there a scandal a decade ago when Denny's got creamed for having a racist corporate culture?  I guess they realized that being "closed" was crummy for business, particularly bad business when you calculate the ROI on a $54 million class action lawsuit.

Let's have some more openness.  For starters, Pratt & Whitney should open their North gate on River Road to bicycles and pedestrians by changing the chain link fence over to a swing gate used at many a State Park and rail trail entrance.  Supposedly the North Gate was closed years ago due to the wanton and dangerous high speed driving (and crashing) that tended to occur involving Pratt & Whitney employees.

I had a meeting last week down at the Middletown facility recently and being car free  decided to try out a hybrid trip from Hartford that included a stint on the commuter bus that runs between Hartford and New Haven.  Had to wake up early to catch the 6AM commuter bus at Union Station, which was run by Peter Pan and did not have a bike rack as I was informed during my phone call a couple days earlier with CT Transit.  Fortunately you can toss your bike into the luggage bays underneath (not recommended for any wimpy carbon rigs).  The $3.75 bus ride dropped me at the junction of Country Club Road and I-91, five miles West of downtown Middletown.  It was another 7 1/2 miles from Middletown to the P&W facility via Saybrook Road and Aircraft Road.

It would be a much more inviting bicycle commute from Middletown (where a lot of folks live and recreate) if that North gate was open.  If the North gate were open, it would trim more than a mile off the bike commute and avoid several sizable hills.  Not to mention that the avoidance of traffic and scenic qualities would improve both the safety and basic attractiveness of a non-car commute to one of Middletown's major employers.  Google Maps for some reason thinks that gate is open, likely to the disappointment of intrepid cyclists and bike commuters.  River Road is one of the most beautiful stretches in Central Connecticut.  The vistas of the Connecticut River are stellar and the traffic is light as there is very little housing development and there isn't a through road.  I highly recommend it, although legally you can only run it as an out-and-back right now.

As Spring arrives, I'm open to warm weather.  Today we sampled the sunshine and warming temperatures while ambling North along the Connecticut and then the Farmington rivers.  Just as we were leaving the Northend of Hartford, we passed this correctional architectural oddity.  I liked the shape and composition for some reason.  A pill box with a severe skirt?  Unfortunately it was part and parcel of the prison industrial complex that we as a country should recognize and correct.  For those that are wondering why they should care about the nasty effects of the War on Drugs and the unbelievable growth of our incarcerated population, I recommend this movie, The House I Live In, which is showing at Real Art Ways through this week.

Let's be more open.  Who's with me?
Read more!

Secret West Hartford dirt jumps

A few years ago, I chronicled the secret dirt jumps of West Hartford. It was blog post that featured comments from Damian. Remember that guy? Where did he go? Was it something I said? We should have never taken him to New Haven, he probably moved there.

I was riding around yesterday on squishy ground, but trying to avoid it by riding on the secret town-sanctioned cut-throughs of West Hartford (the ones that El Presidente de Chine likes so much). I decided to stop in at the secret dirt jumps and see how they were doing. It appears that the double has been greatly improved since last time I stopped by. Read more!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Can't mountain bike with glasses on

On Saturday, I went mountain biking briefly over at Cedar Mountain. The trails there aren't that difficult, but I kept crashing. It was mess. I'm very bad at mountain biking, but I'm not this bad. The difference between this time & all other times was that I was wearing my new glasses. Apparently, the change in focus screws up my depth perception, my balance and timing just enough to crash a lot. I rode the next day with no problems and no glasses. I Googled this problem and nothing came up.

It'd be nice to wear glasses while mountain biking, so that I can see the beautiful vistas of Connecticut, but I'd probably just fall off of them.
Read more!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On the Move

Ken K is headed for some new digs.  I helped him move a couple of loads yesterday and dropped off a housewarming curb picked trailer.  Ken has a trailer, The (Infamous) Coffin, but I think he'll benefit from a smaller, lighter version for more frequent use.  After a couple of hours painting we kissed the river - a short ride that makes it down to one of the river side parks in Hartford.

It's not just Ken who's on the move these days.  Hartford is moving on up in my opinion.  You can't chuck a 40oz without hitting an awesome event, many of them FREE.  Right now I'm sitting in the Hartford Public Library listening to free jazz.  What an amazing series and use of the library space.  In my opinion it's this sort of unconventional event that is really exciting about Hartford right now.  These events fill in the edges and week nights, pulling folks downtown.  I'll bet post jazz, the nearby restaurants bustle with some welcome Sunday dinner business.  The suburban empty nesters may even wonder why not look at a downtown condo, so next winter they can simply walk to all the events and restaurants that they frequent downtown.

Wouldn't it be awesome if UCONN's branch campus that's coming to Hartford takes up residence at the historic Hartford Times building?  That would be a shot in the arm and logical continuance of the Front Street developments.

Read more!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are you bike curious?

There are a lot of folks out there that are bike curious, but maybe haven't taken the plunge yet as a full fledged bike commuter.  Maybe you're a weekend bike path rider that thinks it might be fun (not to mention healthy and cheap) to ride your bike to work or the grocery store on a more regular basis.  Perhaps you're like my co-worker at P&W whose truck just failed emissions and you don't want to cough up the $2000 to fix it.  Whether bike curious by choice or by situation, there are some educational opportunities out there.  Better to do it right, than not.  I mean, when you're riding in the company of several ton vehicles, it's best not to approach the situation like amateur hour.

For example - local bike shops often put on short seminars on Bike Commuting.  REI has come to Pratt & Whitney a couple of times to do Bike Commuting and Bike Maintenance 101 courses - and the classes were full of bike curious engineers.  If you are interested in a bike commuter seminar for your employer or school, get in touch with Bike Walk CT and they can see what makes sense for your organization.

More specifically, there is a FREE bike commuter course at Manchester Community College planned for Friday, April 5th.  The material is being presented by League Cycling Instructors (LCI) certified by the League of American Bicyclists.  This is an important point, since in Mid-May Bike Walk CT is hosting a LCI course to train another 16 more local LCI's.  With more LCI's there will be more quality bike safety and basic training in CT.  Bringing knowledge to the people.  I like it.

This weekend I rode up to Northampton, MA with Kristen to check out the burlesque show that is put on monthly.  It was awesome and disturbing - and I will highly recommend it to others.  On the way back we found Ray Bradbury keeping an eye on dinosaur footprints just off Route 5 north of Springfield.  Route 5 is remarkably pleasant between Northampton and Holyoke, then it quickly turns to shit as you come into West Springfield. 

We veered West to avoid the craptastic West Springfield segment.  On our way back into Northern Connecticut we stopped at Sunrise Park just off Mountain Road, a very nice gem.  I'd like to head back there later for hiking and some warmer weather swimming.  They had a detailed and unique hand made map board up by the reservoir.

If you're a bike commuter and you're passing through East Hartford on Friday (3/15) morning, stop by and catch breakfast with us at Maddie's.  IceBike to Work is what we call it.  Currently dominated by Pratt and Whitney folks, but all are welcome.  We'll be there between 7-8AM.
Read more!


One time when I was 14, I went snowboarding. My parents got me a snowboard rental, lesson and lift ticket for my birthday. It was pretty cool. My friends were all better than me, also owned their equipment and had parents who would pay for them to go do those things. Between the ages of 8 and 10, I also went skiing a few times with my dad. One time, my mom and dad went to Sugarbush and it scared the hell out of me. Those Vermont mountains are huge! Their blue squares are like 10x black diamonds in Connecticut. When I was 20 or 21, someone took me skiing again. It was fun, but the bindings on the rental skis were really loose and one of the skis kept falling off.

A couple of years ago, back when I had more money to waste on eBay, I bought a snowboard for $86.52. I  think that's a good deal, though Static Snowboards seem to be an unknown quantity. Last year, I bought some snowboard boots, but we got no snow. Also, lift tickets are wicked expensive. I thought maybe I could start hiking up stuff and then snowboarding back down, but using cross country skis to do that is way preferable. So, the snowboard has just been sitting in my basement. Well, that's not entirely true. I took it to Vermont back in January when it was really warm and slushy and I rode it down the hill in Claire's parents' backyard.

I had a feeling that some place must be inexpensive to go snowboarding. I looked up Otis Ridge in Mass and it was cheap during the week, but closed Monday and Tuesday. I looked up Mowhawk and found that you can ski there during the week for four hours for $20 and it's open all week. That's only $5/hour. That's an awesome deal in the world of skiing. Sundown is never cheap, must be its proximity to the Farmington Valley.

Sunday night, I watched this. Monday, I rode up the lift without falling and rode down a green circle and sort of remembered how to connect turns. Then, I went down a couple of bigger green circles. Satisfied with that, I decided to go down the terrifying black diamonds of Connecticut's largest ski area. So, apparently I'm like 35 years late in discovering that snowboarding is fun. I couldn't figure out how to ride moguls and there's definitely a distinct lack of going uphill.

Perhaps I'll try this again next year.
Read more!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My favorite holiday

My favorite holiday is Daylight Saving Time. Those naysayers at Wikipedia say this:
[Daylight Saving Time] clock shifts present other challenges. They complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, recordkeeping, medical devices, heavy equipment,[15] and sleep patterns.[16] Software can often adjust computer clocks automatically, but this can be limited and error-prone, particularly when DST protocols are changed.[17]
Obviously, they're shut ins with Vitamin D deficiencies.

Come Monday, even after 5pm, there's still at least 90 minutes of sun. Why would anyone object to that by saying that meetings and heavy equipment are disrupted?

In other news, I got glasses. According to the optometrist, my vision is 20/100. Apparently, I was very good at squinting. I went for a ride yesterday with glasses on and the ground seemed much closer and my bike smaller. This is unlike when I've ridden with sunglasses, when the ground felt very distant and my bike huge.

Read more!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

They're back!

Who are they?  The skunks.  They are out and about.  It smells funny.  Must be getting on Spring.

But that's not what I'm talking about.  Cyclists.  I've seen them peeking out, trying to decide if it's warm enough to ride about.

Good thing there are tons of fun stuff planned for them.  Take a gander:

  • IceBike to Work - Friday, March 15.  East Hartford.  7AM-8AM.  Meet for breakfast at Maddies on Main Street.  Right across the street from Pratt & Whitney.
  • Reveal the Path movie screening - Tuesday, April 16th.  7:30PM.  Wadsworth Atheneum Aetna Theater.
    • This mountain biking / adventure / travel movie came through Hartford in February and sold out.  Sold out faster than any movie this promoter has ever toured with.  Faster than NYC.  Faster than Boston.  Kudos Hartford.  This is your chance to see it if you missed it.
    • Informal Happy Hour meetup ahead of time at Arch Street Tavern.  Get there early if you want to eat so you're not scrambling to get to the movie on time.
    • Get your tickets here online!
    • Part of the proceeds go to Bike Walk CT.
  • Bike Walk CT Summit - Saturday, April 27th, New Haven, CT.
    • The 2013 Bike Walk Summit will bring together people from all over Connecticut to talk about how to improve bicycling and walking in our state.   
    • Don't miss the chance to learn from experts and connect with others working on these issues. Come away energized and inspired and with tools you can use to make a change.
  • The Detour! - Saturday, April 27th, Manchester, CT.
    • Salem's signature romp.  He suggests a route.  You can decide to follow it - or not.
    • If you decide to do the whole thing make sure you are prepared.  Unlike me, don't just show up without route sheets and hope to hang on with others that actually planned ahead.
    • It's sorta long too - if you decide to do the whole thing.  Something like 115 miles.  When you include the extra time / effort for the off road bits it feels something like 150 miles.  Bring lights and chubby-ish tires.
The photo below I took last Friday night heading home from South Windsor on the 291 Bissel bridge pedestrian crossing.  The DOT had snowblown the highway into the bike / ped path.  Several weeks after the super storm there were still 3 foot drifts of icy slush.  I put a note in to the responsive CT DOT Bike Ped Coordinator (Kate Rattan - who said she would put in the maintenance request.  Trying to get the clearing of DOT bridges to be a more automatic thing for the DOT, but we're not there yet.  Until then - you need to point out the issue.  Now you know who to bother.  Be nice.  Kate does her best from the inside of a slow changing organization.

Read more!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Race Eel

The Eel has not been competitive in awhile. That's ok and all, but I think it should return to its speedy roots. The first was no doubt the most prolific.

Ideas I've had are to steal Salem's idea of a point to point race (head to head? head x 4?) along the Hockanum in East Hartford (can't do that in Manchester, competitive racing events are prohibited from the boardwalks of the Hockanum without approval from the Hockanum River Linear Park Committee. § 304-7 Manchester Code of Ordinances). Or, closer to my house, do a secret cyclocross race along South Branch of the Park River. It'd have two river crossings! That's as many as this famous race.

What do you think? Which is more attractive? Tell me!

The plan is to do this maybe early April. De Tour training. Read more!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In search of winter

Can you catch the error in this photo?

I didn't know what to do with myself today. I went for a bike ride yesterday and it was pleasant, but it made my feet really cold. Today, I decided that I would do something else. Johanna is working on a thing for a conference, so I had no one to go to New Haven with and stare at art. I'm not really good at keeping friends anymore, so I don't really have any right now.

So, I decided I'd go up to Granville. It's nice there and I had a hunch it'd still be winter. I brought boots and skis and when I arrived, I was surprised to see that there's still like two feet of snow on the ground. It's not perfect snow, but you don't sink. It's pretty icy, but there's a scintilla of powder on top, so you can almost track straight. However, for a many miles, snowmobiles had "groomed" the trail and it was a lot of fun. It snowed all day and the temperature hovered around 30. Winter lives in Graville, Mass.

I feel like I didn't get enough snow time in this winter, even though we got that big storm. It turned to gross so quickly (or at least I thought it did).

Read more!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cedar Mountain lives to fight another day

Toll Brothers pays people to file permits and make arguments. People who like Cedar Mountain are unpaid. It takes a lot of effort to be an activist for free. People get tired and have lives. You can only testify so many times before you get testimony fatigue.

But, it looks like even those weary folks got a victory last night, because the Newington Conservation Commission rejected Toll Brothers' wetlands permit. Hooray! See this Courant article. Read more!