Saturday, November 22, 2014

How do you get to Dinner?

Ride to the Bike Walk CT Dinner
Meetup in Hartford - Bike Ride to CCSU
Monday, November 24th
Leaving 4:45PM from DEEP near Bushnell Park
(79 Elm St, Hartford, CT 06106)
Dress warm and bring lights.  It's about 15 miles each way.

Bike Walk Connecticut has an Annual Dinner each November.  It's a wonderful event.  There is an expansive silent auction of donated items.  You won't find a higher concentration of active transportation advocates anywhere else in Connecticut.  It's refreshing since we are still largely a car centric state, even in our urban centers.  You will come away inspired.  This year's speaker is Dan Haar, who walked across CT bit by bit on Route 44, writing about the journey in the Hartford Courant.
8 bikes - on a below freezing morning.  Low impact healthy travel.
Curiously very few actually ride their bikes (or walk) to the dinner.  That's the current state of bicycle commuting in Connecticut.  The percentage of bike trips from point A to B is less than 1%, and that means that many bicycling advocates don't ride their bikes that often for transportation, particularly on a cold and dark winter evening.  While living in Urbana, Illinois, now a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community, the bicycle commuting didn't stop for Winter.  If you've ever traveled to Chicago, NYC, or Boston, they don't stop cycling either.  What's different about Connecticut?  Are CT cyclists wimps?

Well, this isn't okay.  We know that metro Hartford citizens are hearty.  They drive hours to ski in the same weather and temperatures that stop bicycle commuting dead in its tracks.  I think it's basically a cultural stumbling block.  "Of course.  You can't bike in the winter.  That would be crazy."  The outfit required to handle the cold is greeted with disbelief.  "My aerodynamic spandex wouldn't be warm enough and what about my silly plastic racing shoes?"    Its damn easy folks.  Put some flat pedals on, and wear footwear and clothes similar to what you might wear outside walking on a windy day or skiing.  Good gloves are nice and you might need a balaclava to keep the wind off your face and ears.  To demonstrate that winter cycling is in fact possible, even when attending a semi-fancy dinner, we'll be meeting up as a group on Monday night and riding over to the dinner, making room for the calories we are about to consume.

On the topic of promoting year round active transportation, we held our first IceBike to Work of the season this past Friday in East Hartford at the diner across the street from Pratt & Whitney.  Eight folks showed up, and two were women.  That's actually a milestone for IceBike.  The first P&W women I've seen bike commute in the winter.  It's super easy to set up an IceBike breakfast.  Just pick a diner and send out a meeting notice.  You can send it your local cycling club and post it up on the Facebook.  It's a low key event, and you pay your own way.  No pesky sponsors or organizing headaches.  Just a friendly breakfast and coffee while your face-icles melt. I challenge someone from Hartford and West Hartford to do the same.  It's rather embarrassing when East Hartford is leading the way.

PS - A couple of last minute tickets for the dinner may be available.  They added another table of ten.

Notice the WSD frame.  Ladies bike commuting to P&W in the winter!

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Squatting. That's a funny word.

I'm squatting.  On this hashtag - #HartfordCyclocross.  Look.  There it is on Beat Bike Blog.  First.  Nobody can Columbus that.  Except I don't know how to use the Twitter.  Can somebody competent help complete this transaction?

Cyclocross in the dark.  Whiskey assist.
If anyone of consequence (or intelligence) reads the Beat Bike Blog and races bikes - the course is pretty damn soft.  Just sayin'.  You might want to choose your tires accordingly.  Last year was hard and jittery.  Not this time.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cyclocross Racing in Colt Park - This Weekend

First - a big deal announcement.  Hartford is a finalist city for the Cyclocross Nationals in 2017 or 2018.  There are four finalist cities, and two will be selected, one for 2017 and the other for 2018.  It's time to start ringing our cowbells, as this is a competition and Hartford has to WIN it.  The other finalist cities are Bend (OR), Louisville (KY), and Reno (NV).  Hartford (in the city proper) hosted two cyclocross races in 2014, and a downtown criterium race.  There is a growing bike racing scene in the Hartford metro area, and our fair city is an excited and helpful host city.  Stay tuned to the Beat Bike Blog for more info on how you can help secure this national cyclocross race.

Cross racers mounting the stairs at the base of the Sam Colt Statue.
For those that don't know much about cross racing, this weekend is your chance to get a crash course.  On Saturday, November 8th there is a full day of cross racing in Hartford's Colt Park starting at 8:30AM.  There is still time to register (REGISTER HERE) and it's a cheap entry fee (only $30).  There are races for all skill levels, and even a kids race.  If you don't race, you can just stop by and spectate.  Bring a cow bell (marathon left overs) or a kitchen pan and holler at the riders.  They need the aural flogging to reach peak performance levels.  Cyclocross has a tradition of goodhearted heckling. I'll see y'all out there, I'm going to volunteer in some shape or form.  There is more info on the Team ERRACE facebook page.
Heckling is part of the fun.  
In the vein of healthy hecking, I challenge any of the racers or attendees to actually ride their bike to the race. Imagine that.  Using your bike as transportation in addition to a shiny fast toy.

There are obstacles on the course.  And crashes happen.
And now for something not bike related.  It could be bike related though.  You can ride your bike there.  Next week there is a week long series call The Thread.  You can find more info here.  Four consecutive days of story telling right here in Hartford.

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