Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eel in a strange place

Studying for the bar exam has cut into the amount of time I allocated to do fun stuff. While writing beat bike blog posts doesn't really count as fun, it has also cut into that. I have some time periodically to ride a bike, but not additional time to write a well thought out and thought provoking blog post about the ride.

However, when doing some practice questions today, I found a great beat bike blog tie-in. While this doesn't seem to be the same eel chronicled on the hallowed pages of this blog, it is a dangerous eel none the less.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Pygmy Village

If you've ever gone passed the DMV in Plainville, you end up in a weird place. I went there one time in high school with my friend Bobby and it was our mutual opinion that it was weird. Later, I learned that it's the site of the Pygmy Village on Rattlesnake Mountain. While some dispute its spookiness, the rest of the internet is convinced of it spookitude. I had never been from the New Britain direction, so I set out that way on Saturday. 

Crossing the I-84 overpass on to west side of the highway, there are these walls made of giant concrete blocks that are about eight feet high on both sides of the road, creating an Escape from New York aesthetic. The blocks end and there's a fenced off area with a lot of no trespassing signs where someone was mowing followed by two rundown occupied houses and one abandoned one. My goal was to ride down North Mountain road back into Plainville, but what appears to be North Mountain road is just a cut for powerlines. Perhaps that's where the Pygmy Village lies, but it did not particularly possible to ride that way. Instead, I continued on what was sort of Long Swamp Rd up Rattlesnake Mountain and eventually came out at the Tilcon quarry. There was some very impressive corduroy.

I'll admit that the spookiness of the area discouraged me from checking out the powerline cut further. Perhaps that's where the Pygmy Village is, but I'll never know for sure. I am interested in exploring more of the ATV trails on Rattlesnake Mountain. I once rode the Metacomet over Rattlesnake, but it was mostly unrideable, hike-a-bike stuff. It looks like it would be possible to do a Tour de Talcott-type ride, but south from the West Hartford Reservoir. I rode once from there to Southington and the Rattlesnake section was the most discouraging. Other than that, it was ok. Discovering these ATV trails and dirt roads make for a pretty good alternative.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Open Letter to Fishers Island Ferry

I was thinking about heading over to Fishers Island for a weekend to visit a friend working in a summer seasonal job.  It looks like the Fishers Island folks don't like poor folks on bicycles crudding up their view.  My attitude about the Glastonbury-Rocky Hill Ferry is exactly the opposite, especially since it was free this past Saturday for CT Open House.  I was so excited about the free ride that I purchased a t-shirt with the ferry on it.

An open letter to the Fishers Island Ferry
To whom it may concern,

I was planning a bicycle ride to visit a friend on Fishers Island.  Was pretty excited about it as I hadn't yet had the chance to visit New London or that part of Long Island.  Excited until I learned about the steep bicycle fare.

It seems absurd that the rate for bringing a bicycle on the ferry ($55) is more than the rate for an automobile ($51).  Whats the logic there?  A bicycle takes up significantly less space, can be stacked together, and is the environmentally responsible choice.   The bicycle as transportation is also the clear choice if one were to worry about the quality of life in a vacation community, where traffic and parking are irritating issues.

Thought I'd put my two cents in.  Based on my initial judgement of Fishers Island from the ferry rate, I'll skip the trip across the Sound and spend my vacation elsewhere.  Not a big loss I'm sure, but if you've ever been to bicycle and pedestrian friendly towns and cities - you'll notice that life is better where cars aren't taken for granted as the only way to get around.

Have a beautiful smog filled summer, and I wish you short term profit followed by decades of rising sea levels. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Tony Cherolis
Beat Bike Blog
Hartford, Connecticut

Question to readers.  Am I missing anything by skipping Fishers Island, or is it just a bunch of white, over compensated investment bankers?

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Monday, June 2, 2014

In defense of mowing

Some say that mowing is an activity for lumpen conformist suburbanites who believes in marketing mumbo jumbo. I heartily disagree. I love mowing. I hope to some day own a home so that I can mow, compost and building a pump track in my back yard. The drone of the mower, the verifiable accomplishment of making high grass low, walking around a yard and the beer afterward make mowing a zen activity nearly as fun as going for a bike ride.

This is not to say everything should be mown, but there should be a place for everyone to roll a bocce ball or put a lawn chair. The rest can be woods or tall grass, but a lawn is a great thing-- a rug for the earth.

I had been hearing a lot of mowing denigration lately, but then I read this. Done right, mowing and landscaping can be a form of expression. It isn't cul-de-sac oppression, it's a canvass upon which one makes grass their own. Contrary to the atomization of the suburban existence, it is the means by which one can personalization and beauty to the terrain. The management company for your apartment or condo can't do that. That's where the conformity and submission lies: living under the authoritarian landscaping of a common interest community. There's no individualism in the lawn someone else mowed for you.

Long live the lawn! Express yourself with stripes!

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