Tuesday, April 30, 2013

More on flat pedals

I was eating an omelet this morning, so I was thinking about pedals. The skillet I use the most often is this large Lodge cast iron one. Upon googling that, I learned that there's a 12" one that's the same price. It would be cool to have an even larger skillet, but I don't think it would fit on the stove. This 10" already prevents me putting anything but the smallest sauce pan behind it. When you put beaten eggs into a large skillet they really spread out. In making an omelet on a large surface like that, I find that if there is a lot of filling in your omelet, it requires a second fold. Instead of having a half circle omelet you get a pie wedge omelet. It's a different eating experience, because you get three layers of egg (sort of four, but two of the layers are touching each other) and two layers of filling. In today's case, it was a cheddar cheese and turnip greens.

The foregoing paragraph was a metaphor: a metaphor for pedals. I think that my cleats are slightly too far forward in my shoes and after the big ride this weekend my ankles hurt. Going running did not make them feel better. You know what did make them feel better? Going for a ride with flat pedals. Instead of putting pressure further forward on my foot like I do with clipless pedals, I slid my feet forward and pedaled from the arch. By the end of the ride I went on yesterday, I had worked out a lot of the stiffness in my ankles.

Also, I saw the Skull Trailer:

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Monday, April 29, 2013


That stands for Post-Traumatic Detour Disorder, but I kid. The route of this year's De Tour de Connecticut was the same pleasant route as years' past (mostly) and the weather was beautiful, but the pace was bordering on traumatic at times. And since I don't ever want to consult a cue sheet, I hung with the lead group all the way until we rejoined the Air Line Trail in Goodwin State Forest. I probably would have hung longer (despite my growing opposition to the pace), but I got a stick in my wheel and didn't have the fortitude to sprint back up to the group. I rode the airline trail back into Willimantic in solitary and found about half of the lead group at the spring. We also picked up two riders and I couldn't figure out how they got to the Spring before me, because they never passed me. Shortcut.

We got some quasi-substantial food in Willimantic center, Lance smoked a cigarette and we were off once again. We rode the new section of the Airline Trail that a farmer had tried to appropriate by adverse possession for several years (can't acquire property from the state by adverse possession (public policy reasons) & the state can't acquire property by adverse possession either (that's a taking under the 5th Amendment)). The false flat into East Hampton never gets any easier.

We stopped at the library to fill water bottles, pee and wash faces. I was eating WAY better this year and finally conquered Champion Hill without blowing up. I was surprised to discovered that it's not actually that steep of hill when you still have some energy in your body. I parted ways in the Meshomasic and rode home.

I'm not sure who ended up finishing with Salem, but they must have beat last year's time by like a half an hour. According to Strava, even my laughing group (after my leaving) finished in under 9 hours. It took me about 10 hours because I rode out to the start.

Then, I showered and drove to New York to go run as one on Sunday.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Hartford Criterium

Not in New Hartford,  in regular Hartford.

The Tim Johnson Ride on Washington rode through Hartford yesterday evening and this morning. Not holding it on Friday makes it difficult to join up with them for lots of people, but Salem met them out somewhere in the eastern part of the state and rode into Hartford with the group. Apparently, there have been lots of cool police escorts.

There was an evening event at the Hartford Bicycle Studio with free beer and some free food. While I miss doing it at Kenny's, because I like to go to Kenny's. I think the Studio is probably a more genre appropriate venue. Also, the beer here was free, so that was an improvement over the pay-for beer at Kenny's.

Additionally, it was announced that the Travlers' Criterium, which apparently was a big bike race that ceased to happen when I was three, is coming back to Hartford as part of Envisionfest this fall. I was hoping a big 'cross race was coming, because criterium racing doesn't do a lot for me (probably because I've never bought a road license). The smaller scale Downtown Criterium hasn't happened since '08 and I haven't got my shit together enough to ever do another 'cross race, so this is a pretty cool development. I mean, there aren't even alley cats in Hartford anymore. I guess bike racing in Hartford has really petered out. But, now it is returning with pros and everything.

Also, Johanna, Salem and I rode downtown together (which is news in and of itself) and saw an ATV beeing towed down Broad St. Was it being impounded? One can only hope. Read more!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tim Johnson Summits Burnside Ave Bike to Work

*** Updated 4/23 with Burnside Ave info session details. ***

Ha!  Didn't think you'd read a post with such a purposefully confusing run-on title.  But it looks like you're doing it anyway.

I'm going to start in the middle.  Burnside Avenue.  It's crummy for riding on and deadly too.  After 3 cyclists died within 18 months, combined with several pedestrian deaths the CT DOT is proposing to drop the state highway down to one lane each way with bike lanes.  A road diet!  The first one the DOT has attempted.  Burnside Avenue is ripe for a road diet.  The dense neighborhoods, small local stores, and high percentage of non-vehicular traffic are a good fit.  The road was designed to carry much more traffic than it actually sees, and the DOT's traffic counts identified it as fitting for one lane each way.

Here's where it gets important.  You can't stop now.   There is a public info session on April 30th.  These are important.  The CT DOT and East Hartford officials need to hear why its important to you and the City of East Hartford to make Burnside Avenue a Complete Street.  A street designed for people, not just cars.  If you ride on Burnside, we need your voice.  If you live in East Hartford, we need your voice. If you would like to see the DOT look at road diets on other harrowing state highways, we need your voice.  This is the first domino.

Here's how you can be heard:

  1. Show up at the public info session on April 30th.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation will conduct a public informational meeting concerning State Project 42-315, bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Route 44, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, at the East Hartford Town Hall in the Council Chambers (2nd floor), 740 Main Street, East Hartford, Connecticut.  Department personnel will be available at 6:30 p.m. to answer questions prior to formal presentation at 7:00 p.m.  For more information, please visit the ConnDOT website.
  2. Send a note to the CT DOT's Bike Ped Coordinator Kate Rattan (Katherine.Rattan@ct.gov) and the Mayor of East Hartford, Marcia Leclerc (mleclerc@easthartfordct.gov). Let them know you support the project and what it means to you.
  3. Do both!

And then I'll go back to the beginning.  Tim Johnson swoops through Hartford on Wednesday of this week (4/24).  He'll be traveling with a speedy group from Boston to Washington DC to reinforce the messages of the recent National Bike Summit. You might want to ride him (and his merry band of bike advocates) into Hartford or back out on Thursday.  There will also be a reception on Wednesday night at the Hartford Bike Studio, starting at 7:00PM.  Beer sponsor is Harpoon!

The Bike Summit.  Don't forget the Bike Summit.  That's this Saturday, April 27th in New Haven.  A responsible alternative to the DeTour de Connecticut sufferfest.

I'm on a roll planning a Bike to Work breakfast in East Hartford on May 23rd (a Thursday).  The downtown Hartford Bike to Work is on Friday May 17th.  Bike Walk CT is asking folks to register online, and it will put you in the running for a raffle of donated swag from local bike shops.  You can also sign up with the National Bike Challenge.  Last year Pratt & Whitney absolutely stomped Travelers in the National Bike Challenge.  Wonder if we'll do it again, or if Travelers and other Hartford employers might give us some competition this year.  P&W is looking strong.  12 bikes on the racks by engineering building this morning, in April.  Not something I would have seen a couple of years ago.  
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The man who drank water from Dudleytown

Johanna and I hiked the Mohawk Trail this weekend. It's one of the CT blue blazed trails and it used to be the Appalachian Trail until the late 1970s. I recommend it. Quiet, pretty and the only blue blazed trail I know of with lean-tos and campsites. We had a good time. Saturday night, I got to sit by the fire drinking apple brandy, smoke my pipe and look at the stars.

The other thing about the Mohawk Trail is that is goes through Dudleytown- THE MOST HAUNTED PLACE IN AMERICA!!!!! Or, not, who knows? All the paranormal websites seem to give contradictory information. Most people say it's on the Mohawk Trail, but the Warrens say it's not in the Bonney Brook Valley at all and nowhere near Dark Entry Rd. It's hard to verify things in the world of superstition. Dark Entry Rd seems like a really nice neighborhood, though.

Anyway, we hiked through there and it's really quite pretty. The Bonney Brook has a beautiful series of cascades. There are also lots of no trespassing signs from the ominous sounding Dark Entry Forest, Inc.

And, as I was thirsty, I filtered some water from a Bonney Brook tributary and drank it. Hopefully, my demise isn't approaching anymore rapidly than it was before.

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Monday, April 15, 2013


There was a time when El Presidente de Chine used to write about these multi-modal adventures to Bridgeport, wherein he'd get driven to Middletown, take a bus to New Haven, ride to Bridgeport, take the train back to New Haven, ride to Middletown and get driven home. It was something like that. Sometimes, I ride to Avon, chop wood and then take a car home with the wood. One time, I rode downtown to work, skateboarded to the train station, took the train to Maryland and then was picked up by car. Yesterday, I used multi-modality by putting a canoe on a car, locking my bike up at the canoe's destination, driving up river, canoeing down river and then riding the bike up to where the car was left. It worked great. I've considered doing this to canoe by myself and keeping the bike in the canoe, so I can go as far as I please, but I can't figure out how to get a canoe on top of a car by myself without breaking a window on the car.

Besides, it can be lonely canoeing by yourself.

There are these things, but I'm unsure if they'd be usable in a hilly place like Connecticut.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Busy Bees, Removing a Stinger

While spinning around with Brendan after work a couple Fridays ago, I managed to catch a stick between the ground and my shin.  Just minutes after rolling up my pants to enjoy the warm weather.  I realized that there was a sizable scratch, but kept on riding.  Later in the ride I realized the scratch hadn't stopped stinging.  A piece of the stick was embedded in my shin, stubbornly refusing to come back out.  Finished the ride with plans to deal with the wood chip later, but heading home would make me late for the Hartfolk Festival.  I stopped at a bench in Elizabeth Park and improvised with a flashlight clip and multi-tool to pry out the unwelcome hitchhiker.  Glad that shins are light on nerves and major blood vessels.

This is your heads up for upcoming awesomeness.  Its time to come out of your hives and put the tires back on the road (or dirt).  Beat Bike Blog is your source for the best bike buzz.  Go get some.  Ha!

  • Reveal the Path - Tuesday, April 16th.  7:30PM at the Wadsworth.
    • Happy hour socializing beforehand at Arch St Tavern.
    • $11 online, and $15 at the door.  This show is coming back because it sold out in February.
    • Part of the proceeds go to Bike Walk CT.
  • Trashion Fashion Show and After Party - Saturday, April 20th.  6PM at Hartford City Hall.
    • The theme is recycled couture.  Wear your duct tape pants and represent.  I built a couple of tree stumps to add to the cardboard forest that will be transforming Hartford City Hall.
    • acTrashion Fashion Show starts at ??.
    • After party, Welcome to Bohemia, is at the Hartford Bicycle Studio right next to Arch Street Tavern.
    • Tickets on sale now!  - If you get tix for both events, you save a couple bucks.
  • Tim Johnson's Ride on Washington - Wednesday, April 24th
    • Let's be welcoming as Tim Johnson and crew grace our state on the way to DC for some advocacy.
    • Reception for the cyclists at Hartford Bicycle Studio around 7PM on Wednesday.
    • The route - LINK.
  • Bike Walk Connecticut Summit - Saturday, April 27th
    • Want to help make things better and get up to speed on what's already in the works.  This is your chance.
  • The Detour - For those that prefer pain and pursuit of the bonk to engaging bike / ped advocacy seminars.  Salem is touting the Wee Tour for those that can't stomach the full 118 miles (1/2 road, 1/2 dirt)

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

5 years of the Beat Bike Blog

There are lots of anniversaries out there of things, because once something happens, it's got an anniversary. Today, this blog celebrates its fifth anniversary. That's pretty long, but my other blog has been around for 12 1/2 years. That's so long that Blogger won't even display the original posts. You'll have to take my word that I started it in January of 2001. It's a pre 9-11 blog; that's ancient.

Things have changed a lot since the beat bike blog began 5 years ago. Back then, people used to ride around Hartford and enjoy themselves. We thought Critical Mass was cool. At that time, Hartford seemed giddy with bikeyness. Even though Hartford has some bike racks now, it doesn't seem particularly giddy. Other things that have changed are that, save me, none of the people in the masthead picture writing things here anymore. It makes me question why I haven't moved on to more interesting things, but I like clinging to my halcyon days of being 24.

It also used to seem that everyone have a bike blog 5 years ago. Now, people use Strava to talk about bikes instead. Since most bike blogs were just ride reports, maybe just replacing them with data isn't a bad thing.

I guess because of this blog I've met a bunch of new friends who are pretty cool. I also put together some Eels, which I think were good things. And, there were the four river cleanups I did in the blog's name. Those were positive. It's also given me a reason to post pictures of things from bike rides.

So, should we keep going?

Also, what's your favorite beat bike blog post?

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Gun control

Last Thursday, Governor Malloy signed the sweeping gun control bill into law. Some people are angry about it and some people are happy about it. That's neither here nor there, because it seems to do little to address things with which people have shot at me. The evening after the bill I was signed, I was riding home from school on Hillside Ave around 9:45. I saw two youth walking west on Catherine Street, who proceeded to shoot at me with a bb gun. They didn't hit me, which was good. I wasn't happy about this, so I called the police. The police were helpful and responded quickly, but my description of two youth with black hoodies on Hillside Ave with a bb gun was not particularly descriptive and they didn't find anyone.

This wasn't the first time I had been shot at. Five years ago I was riding down Capitol Ave and some kids shot at me with a slingshot. Happily, they didn't hit me either. I didn't call the police that time, because back then I lacked the bike handling skills to call 911 while riding. I guess being shot at every five years isn't so bad. People try to run me over much more frequently that. Maybe I'm overreacting.

The only reason I bring this up is because I feel that this blog is usually too preachy about Hartford and bikes. Those things are all well and good, but they also can suck. I used to be high and mighty towards people who aren't as passionate about Hartford and bikes as me. Now, I can respect other opinions. There are downsides, like getting shot at. There's no cool urban grittiness to brag about in this situation. It just sucks.

Actually, I don't think riding a bike sucks. I still like that a lot.

Also, riding in a bike in West Hartford sucks, too. I was coming home from a ride on Saturday and some asshole tried to run me over after I was told while waiting for the light to change that I shouldn't use the road.

So, I'm not going to stop doing what I'm doing, but I understand both sides now. I considered not writing about this on this silly little blog, because I didn't want to write some knee-jerk reaction to what happened in the throes of pissed off-itude. I sat on it over the weekend and didn't tell anyone about last Thursday's incident. I thought some more about it and decided that when I give someone a hard time about not walking somewhere or riding their bike to it, maybe there's a legitimate reason why they didn't do those things. That thinking led me to decide that maybe weird bike people like me should be a little more understanding.

I am not advocating for a bb gun ban. I am a proud, law-abiding bb gun owner! Read more!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why wait?

On vacation this last week in Southern Florida I did a good bit of cycling and some canoeing, along with a requisite amount of walking about.  Part of the trip was spent at the home of a friend's grandmother North Port.  The home was located in a 55+ planned community located adjacent to a state highway.  Within the confines of the community there was a surprising amount of walking and cycling.  The three wheeled cargo trikes appeared to be a local favorite.  I wondered, "Why wait?"  Were these friendly folks, retired in Florida, just now discovering the joys of non-motorized transportation and recreation?

Did the relations with their elderly neighbors magically improve in the 55+ community due to some new found font of inner friendliness, or was the addition of more personable transportation somehow involved?  Why is a very reasonable 15mph the speed limit in their planned community, but I've never seen anything below 25mph in the ubiquitous suburban sprawl-scape?  Would these valued elders have been better off in a mixed age, densely developed, urban area with ample park lands rather than a dead end neighborhood of their peers?  I left the experience with a sprinkling of first hand experience of what had previously been a confusing and foreign concept to me.  I came to understand some of the benefits that come with these packaged communities, but at the same time didn't see why those benefits weren't already possible in a redeveloped urban or smart growth community. 

But now back to my titular concept - Why Wait?  We know what we want - livable, bikeable, and walkable communities.  Communities where we know our neighbors and have lots of social and cultural opportunities.  It makes sense both individually, and globally, to change ours lifestyles to better fit this vision.  So why do hordes of humanity wait until their silver years to gain a sense of community and take the opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air as part of their commute?  Does getting to know your neighbor take on new importance when the time left to do so is increasingly evident?  This boggles my mind.  Leaving me with a headache and a sense of futility for the future of this green Earth.  It doesn't help that I just watched A Fierce Green Fire at Real Art Ways, a thorough documentary that I highly recommend.  For some reason environmental and social justice movies tend to leave me feeling negative and crummy about where the world is heading.

Florida as a state is a hodge podge of improvements aimed at Complete Streets, but struggling to overcome the challenges of a very sprawling development model.  Florida is the shining capitol of soulless strip mall development and curve linear suburbs built on drained swamp land.  I seem to recall being excited about the bike lanes that are standard on new Florida state highways when I was an undergraduate at Florida State University, but now I recognize the limitations.  When a roadway has 3-4 lanes of traffic in each direction traveling at 45-55mph and there are high speed entrance and exit ramps, a bike lane seems a bit silly.  Better than nothing, but not something that will draw the masses out of their reinforced assault vehicles.  On a tangential note, I've noticed that many areas in Florida do have solid bus transit systems.  Perhaps this is resultant of a retired community that needs this amenity to get around, pulling busing out of the just for poor folks stigma.

Along this vein, why wait to register for the Connecticut Bike Walk Summit that is rapidly approaching on April 27th?  This is the same day as Salem's DeTour de Connecticut, but I doubt the attendees would overlap much (although I happen to have a tough decision to make).  Instead of wallowing in fatalistic visions of our car-centric, globally weird future we can take the opportunity to do something about it.  There are short term, local, and personal benefits to a more bikeable and walkable Connecticut.  Why wait?
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Salem cancels Detour so that he can go ride around in circles at Winding Trails

That was my terrible attempt at an April Fool's joke. Even to the eight people who would get that joke, it's not even funny.

Anyway, Salem sent out his annual email alerting people to the upcoming Detour de Connecticut. You should come do it. Here's what he had to say:

With the long tail end to winter this year, it took some time before I could check on the route, but all is pretty much well and The Basics for this year's ride have been posted. From last year on, the date is the last Saturday of April (Sunday rain date) which puts us on 4/27 for this year. Again, any questions should be posted to the blog as a comment to the most recent post and I will answer it there for you and all. Hope to see many of you out there in a month.

So, there you have it.

Also, the Winding Trails race is actually the week before the Detour, so you can do both. Read more!