Monday, July 14, 2014

A Short History Tour of Hartford, Sunday July 20th

This Sunday, I'm organizing a very informal, free, and short bicycle ride in Hartford as part of the Sam Colt 200th birthday festival (  I've got some complicated thoughts and opinions on the legacy of Sam Colt and firearms in Hartford.  That said a community festival that gets residents and visitors to think about and debate history (and current events) is a win-win in my book.  Colt Park is also conveniently located only half a block from my house.

Colt 200 History Ride – Sunday, July 20th.  9AM.
Meet at the Sam Colt statue near the Wethersfield Avenue entrance of Colt Park.  There is some parallel parking at the Wethersfield Road entrance, and additional parking in the lot off Warwarme.  That said, if you ride your bike to the ride, parking isn't something you have to worry about.

What kind of ride is this?
This is a very informal ride of friends, old and new.  The ride doesn't cost anything.  We’ll meet up and you may choose to ride along the suggested route below.  At several points on the ride the group will stop to chat about the Hartford history we are passing by.  The ride will be very leisurely in pace.  The distance covered is approximately 7 miles if you follow the route described below.

What you need:

  • Your bike.  A bicycle in safe riding condition.  Brakes, lubricated chain, pumped up tires.  If in doubt, get a tune up at your local bike shop.  Fatter tires will be more comfy on some of the bumpy roads.
  • Helmet. A helmet isn’t required, since you’re simply choosing to ride along in the same direction, but I would highly recommend it.
  • Water.  Although this is a short ride, we will take an hour or more to cover the distance.  You’ll probably appreciate having a water bottle, especially if you’re planning to hang out in the park after the ride.   It’s summer time.  Sometimes it gets hot out.
  • Bicycle Lock.  If you plan to leave your bike and walk around any of the historical sites, stop for breakfast, or explore the park after the ride.
  • A great, or at least tolerable, attitude!  You should bring it with you, as we don’t have many spares on hand.


Route Note – This is not a closed course.  You are choosing to follow a suggested route on city streets.   The riders will be obeying the rules of the road and practicing “vehicular cycling”, which is how cyclists are treated the best by motorists.

1) Starting at the Colt Statue head down the hill (East) on the park road.
2) Take a right turn onto the park road before you get to the swimming pool.  Careful.  The park road is a bit rough.
3)     Pass the parking lot, and take a left on Warwarme Ave.  Appreciate the skyline of Hartford looking over Colt Park.
4) Veer right onto Reserve Road.  SAFETY NOTE - Ride slow across the choppy railroad tracks.
5) Quick left into Charter Oak Park. SAFETY NOTE - There are off angle tracks into (and out of) the park – and you should make sure to cross them at a right angle.  We’ll make a quick stop at the gazebo to talk some history.
6) Leaving Charter Oak Park, we’ll take a right on Reserve, and then Left on Warwarme. SAFETY NOTE - Remember to slow down and cross the railroad tracks at a right angle.
7) Right turn onto Huyshope Ave.  Stop in front of Colt CafĂ© and we’ll take a look at the Colt Armory
8) Left on Charter Oak Avenue.  Stop at Church of the Good Shepherd, on the left.
9) Right on Prospect.  Stop at the Amos Bull / Butler-McCook garden on the left.  Then stop at the plaza between City Hall and the Wadsworth Atheneum
10) Left on Gold
11) Left on Main Street
12) Right on Wells Street and continue around Pulaski Circle (traffic circle).  Turn onto Elm Street, and we’ll stop briefly at Bushnell to talk about the Park River and the history of the park.
13) Continue up Elm.  Turn Left on Trinity Street.
14) Turn Left again on Capitol Avenue.
15) Right on Hudson.
16) Left on Buckingham.  Continue straight on Charter Oak.
17) Right on Charter Oak Place up a short hill.
a. Stop at the top of the hill to learn about the Charter Oak.
18) Left on Wyllys Street
19) Right on Osten Boulevard
20) Left on Luis Ayala
21) Right on Van Block Avenue
22) Right on Masseek Avenue.  Enter Colt Park from the East end.  Stop and chat a bit about the history of baseball in Hartford.
In addition to the ride on Sunday, there is a whole day of festival on Saturday

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