Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Hey hippie! Get me some drugs!" ....... Critical Mass May 2008

The best quote from the entire ride was yelled at us from the sidewalk on Park Street just after crossing New Park Avenue.

I am pretty dang sure i can't sum things up better than Karma, but i have something he doesn't from the ride! ha! i will add photos and a few words to his thousands of words...

We unfortunately lost a few riders enroute, but happily actually picked a few along the way and they rode for the rest of the ride. Kick ass! Next month will be even bigger and better!

Some new people had the same reaction I did my first time, concerning when the ride starts. i was kinda annoyed to arrive at 5:30 and not leave for 45 minutes. Well, we meet at 5:30, but never leave before 6pm, which is a good thing, because then we can all pass out the new flyers we made, talk about where to take the ride and, of course, socialize a bit. Its all good! We're in a beautiful park! Enjoy it!

here's my soapbox 2cents and then i'll shut up about such things. Its everyone's ride, which i love and respect, and there aren't really any rules, which is awesome, but we all should take ownership and try to make the ride the way we envision it. so i will!

my critical thoughts about the mass:

We shouldn't take up two lanes, or ride against opposing traffic when we don't need to, but that said, we do need to take a full lane at all times. ALWAYS! Take the lane! Its ours! We should stop at red lights, but if the light turns red as the group is passing through, we should cork the street and keep the group together (google critical mass and corking for a primer.) Stopping at red lights allows helps the mass to regroup. same with speed. we have to keep a pace that keeps us as a group. Together we conquer and we are safer. Divided we are not so safe and not so much of a mass. I am all for drinking beer,, but not littering. Please don't throw your shit in the street y'all, not a good look.

ok, agree with me, hate me, its all good. That's what the comments are for! ride your own ride. ride daily, celebrate monthly. off the soapbox and on with the ride!

Riding down Farmington Avenue in West Hartford.

The begining of the Park Street adventure which was also my favorite part of the ride. Unlike much of West Hartford, where lots of drivers were in a rush and speeding around us, here most of the drivers waited on the side streets or drove slowly behind us; beeping, yelling, smiling and waving. People were ALIVE and full of life.

I'm not really sure how Jimmy managed to make himself in focus, but as long as he continues to use his special powers for good...its all good. but he's tarnishing my blurry photo rep.

Want to see more photos and read about how Poser Dave's bike got stolen on Park Street while he was peeing in the bushes?

Want to see the strangest butt photo ever taken at Mad Dawgs?!?

click READ MORE below!


While poser was doing something in the bushes involving whipping it out, he just left his freakin' bike on the grass near the sidewalk. Krash promptly cut infront of me announcing he was stealing the bike. I wasn't really sure if he was going to A) trade bikes B) hide it somewhere or C) i have no idea what C was!

so Krash just grabbed it and rode off with the two; holding his new bike with one hand and steering his own bike with the other. Eventually Poser finished and started running after his bike. and running. and running. Several of us almost crashed laughing at the shananigans. I am super glad someone decided to detour us through Pope Park. Great idea!

Ahhh, back onto Park Street, which, except for the pendejo who tossed the plastic bottle out an apartment window and hit Corey, was mad fun; full of people, life and energy. The Puerto Rican Day Parade is on Sunday and vendors were selling Boriqua merch everywhere and a few riders bought flags and joined in the celebration. Most everyone on the sidewalks and in cars cheered us on as we cheered them on. Life was GREAT!

MaryLynn rockin' the aforementioned Puerto Rican flag on Main Street on her sweeeet cruiser. Niiiiiice! She even managed to buy a hotdog a little later and ride and eat at the same time. Skills!

Pratt Street was owned!

bicyles! bicycles! bicycles! bicycles! bicycles! bicycles!
The post ride party was at Mad Dawgs which was great for many reasons.
Lots of Misfits got play on the juke.
Free happy hour 6 foot grinder.
$2 Miller High Lifes and $5 40's.

Alcohol is a hell of a drug!

Read more!

Critical Mass and the Impromptu Puerto Rican Pride Parade

First of all, and most importantly, I just want to say thank you to everyone who came out yesterday afternoon to participate in Critical Mass. It was not only a huge success as far as the number of people who came out (a rough count reached into the mid thirties) but overall it had the feeling that we have only just begun to tap into the beast's potential. If one was to refer to the aforementioned Wikipedia definition you might say that we are far from reaching our own critical mass.

For those that missed it, your loss but there is always next month, be there! Regardless of whether or not you deserve it I still will give you the details if only to taunt and entice you to come out next month. The afternoon began with several post-work brews with a few co-bloggers and a couple of fellow riders at the Hook and Ladder. The weather was obviously gorgeous and we took the opportunity to sit out on the patio while we drank our beers and tried to lure in more bikers by a combination of yelling and throwing fliers at them. Not much luck as due to the fact that we were about 15 feet from the road and most people just thought we were a bunch of crazies who must have gotten out of work at like 2 and were already half in the bag (kind of like the kid sitting next to us in the Led Zeppelin t-shirt going on and on about the huge Bob Weir and Rat Dog show that we just couldn't miss, I mean Trey is going to be there man its going to be far out). The best part in my humble opinion, however, was the fact that we must have seen upwards of a dozen bikers fly by in the 30 minutes we were there. Who knew Main Street was such the bike thoroughfare at 5.00!

After finishing our beers we zipped through the back alley and cruised over to Bushnell Park where we found a gratifyingly large group of people ready to ride. What a great mix of people as well. I don't think we broke into the AARP demographic, however, better luck next time. We loitered for a while discussing why there was a huge spread of food and hundreds of kids running around in the carousel and looking for children who might be willing to grab one of us a slice of pizza. Around 6.00 ambitions started to stir and the biomass trickled onto the street. After a bit of a delay getting everyone organized (its not easy to coordinate something that is inherently meant to be non-organized and even harder still to do so while maintaining the aura of informality) the group eventually coagulated on Farmington Ave. just past the semi-suicidal intersection with Asylum and we were on our way.

We rolled down Farmington taking up one and periodically two lanes. In general motorists were annoyed but not deliberately hostile. A few honks were heard but no direct threats were vocalized. Passing bicyclists were urged to join us and one did after he was coaxed from his bag of donuts! Continuing down Farmington Brendan made the excellent call that we should ride through Blueback Square. Turning onto Memorial Rd. the group started to hoot, holler, yodel, and yell, utilizing the tall buildings and small space for all of its acoustic value. The sound was excellent and the looks on the faces of locals out for an evening stroll was even better. You could just see them thinking, "I thought our taxes were so high in order to keep riff raff like this out of West Hartford?" Much to their chagrin we weren't going anywhere and the looks continued as we continued on Main St., back onto Farmington, and down La Salle Rd, before eventually arriving on Park Rd.

The general consensus at this point was that it would be a great idea to take Park Rd. all the way back into the Beat and we made our way out of West Hartford. It was here that the most automobile hostility was felt as cars zipped past us by crossing into the oncoming lane and flooring it. Things got much more pleasant, and interesting, as we inched farther towards Parkville and into the aftermath of what seemed to be a Puerto Rican pride celebration. Flags festooned from buildings and cars, carts were out on the street selling flags and food, and people were everywhere. Several riders pulled over to buy flags and the impromptu bike parade was born. The locals didn't really question what we were doing, preferring to honk their horns and wave. Besides the plastic bottle thrown from a building that hit one of the riders in the head (helmet? check.) this had to be one of the most fun parts of the entire ride. The vibe was great and people were everywhere. It was hard to leave Parkville but there was still the need to hit up a park and ride through the city. We rode through Pope Park and headed back towards Main Street, down Pratt (the wrong way), back onto Asylum, and up High St. (again the wrong way) where a giant inflatable beer can seemingly sapped ambitions from the riders and summoned us towards post-ride libations. Mad Dawgs was the venue of choice and beers were partaken in 12 and 40oz forms on the sidewalk as we all took in the sight of 30 bikes stacked, piled, and hung from every instrument that would accept a lock. We drank, talked, and faded into the evening to the cooing melodies of Black Sabbath. See you next month. Cheers!

Read more!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bike Sponsorship Success: Mad Props to Xootr!

What is Xootr, you ask? Only the coolest bike company in the whole wide world, as far as I am concerned. They make the Swift, the folding bike pictured above, and today Xootr gave me the best Nigerian Democracy Day present I have ever received. Read the e-mail after the jump from Xootr founder Tom Miner to see what I'm talking about.

Hi Josh,

You might have discovered, were not big on marketing. We work hard on designing really good products and hope that word of mouth gets things going. That approach has worked pretty well for us so far. Nonetheless, we like what you are proposing because it is consistent with our grass roots approach to "spreading the word".

Let's give it a try. We'll send you a Swift and you test it out. If you like the product, keep it in exchange for your promotion efforts. If you don't like it, send it back. Your part of the bargain would be to promote as you describe in your proposal and to let us know periodically what you've done. No need for a written contract, we take you at your word.

Let us know what size and color you want and where to ship it and will get this proposition rolling...


Tom Miner
Xootr LLC

Isn't that something? Can we all just take a moment to appreciate Tom's no-nonsense, earnest way of doing business? What a guy.

Needless to say, you will soon be reading about my adventures on the Swift (most of them, of course, undertaken while toting my necessaries in a high-quality bag provided by Manhattan Portage). In the mean time, let us all bask in the glow of Xootr's do-right, bike culture awesomeness.
Read more!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


So the day has finally come. As the anticipation has built over the four weeks I almost didn't think the day would finally arrive. Better than laundry day, better than pay day, and even edging out beer day, tomorrow is the day we all have been waiting for.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, I happen to be speaking of Hartford's Critical Mass for the month of May. Yes my friends, our own city of Hartford has its own Crit and tomorrow is the day for all like-minded, bike-obsessed, environmentally-concious individuals to take to the streets to show our support for our non-motorized two-wheeled friends.

What is this Crit I speak of?

Well, according to Wikipedia critical mass is, and I quote,
"A critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The critical mass of a fissionable material depends upon its nuclear properties (e.g. the nuclear fission cross-section), its density, its shape, its enrichment, its temperature and its surroundings."

However, while this may on some abstract level define what we are talking about I think another Wiki definition is more appropriate, again I quote,
"Critical Mass is an event typically held on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world where bicyclists and other self-propelled commuters take to the streets en masse. While the ride was originally founded with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to bicyclists,[1] the leaderless structure of Critical Mass makes it impossible to assign it any one specific goal. In fact, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and traveling as a group through city or town streets."

And I continue....

The definitive Critical Mass information site writes,

"Critical Mass has no leaders, and no central organization licenses rides. In every city that has a CM ride, some locals simply picked a date, time, and location for the ride and publicized it, and thus the ride was born.

CM is an idea and an event, not an organization. You can't write to "Critical Mass"

Some CM riders try to tie up traffic as much as possible and be otherwise confrontational with motorists. Such riders are missing the point about Critical Mass. CM is a celebration of cycling, not a war against motorists. CM is about asserting our right to the road, not denying others their right to the road. Those who want to play juvenile games are encouraged to stay at home instead."

Now that sounds like fun, does it not?

So, be you messenger, commuter, spandex-clad roadie, hipster, or noob, join us tomorrow as we take to the streets to reclaim what is rightfully (and legally) ours. We will meet at the bucolic Bushnell Park, by the Carousel, @ 5.30PM and will ride when we feel all stragglers have made their way into our ranks. So don't think that because you get out of work at 5.00 that you can't possibly make it, I say try, try, try. There is always time.

Remember this is an opportunity for you to display to the automotorists of Hartford that we can share the road, and illustrate to all the fact that the bicycle has a home on our city's streets just as it does on the avenues of what some might (unfortunately) call more progressive cities.


Read more!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Your random bike picture of the day

Here is a picture of a guy on a bike waiting for a drawbridge to close. You can click on it to see a larger version. One free beer for the first person who can tell me the exact location where this photo was taken. Read more!

Happy hour to last call in the Beat!

There is no photographic pixels or sound recordings of last Friday’s Happy Hour in downtown where G-Money, Hardcore (visiting from Hotlanta) and I reunited part of the old school happy hour crew and wandered around eating free food and drinking $2 drafts. Good. Keeps us out of trouble with the courts and that thing called “evidence.” But at 7, they drove and I rode to Sully’s Tiki Bar for Steve and Rod’s House Happy Hour. There were 4 or 5 bicycles locked up on the back fence and the crowd was moving to the beats and an amazing vibe fell upon the night. It was the first HHH of the season and one of the best! Such a good time indeed, except most everyone was still feelin’ it on Saturday. But what a night! Everyone was dancing outside to the house beats and great old school hip-hop. Inside, Sirsy, a two piece band was really making it happen, great music. Lots of fun dancing and being silly.

I cannot write anymore, so here’s some photos and crappy captions:

Chug water and wear a helmet! Go Amy Z and Rick! Two bicycles leaving, but more still there.

Rich’s Eyeglass Case amazed even more people. Rachel and Brooke were enthralled and maybe confused. I am not sure if this counts as yet another awkward picture of three people.

or maybe this? Hardcore looks pretty well done, G-Money is about to do something (goddess knows what) and Amisha seems to just be trying to smile in the midst of madness.

Unknown to me, my fellow bloggers have been quite busy with promo deals and cross marketing! Check Carol’s beer! She’s smiling, but if the BBB really has anything to do with brewing, I’d stay away from Chain Grease Lager!

Hey! There isn’t no more, but I can’t make “READ MORE” go away, so click it if you must, but you have been warned! Go click “READ MORE” on another post if you must read more. Read more!

The Scruffy Peloton: Bridges and all the Windsors

I have only recently recovered from the adventures of happy hour til last call on Friday night and that’s not yet a full recovery mind you! So this is kinda late.

The Scruffy Peloton rode again on Thursday in pursuit of more bridges on a 30 mile ride mostly along the Connecticut River. We altered the end of the planned ride in order to cross the Bissell bridge. We left the Mark Twain house and headed north towards Keney Park. I really enjoy every ride through the park, its quite lush and green and there’s even an actual ravine there as well as ponds, trees, roads, greenways and a little bit of everyone. Cricket too!

Here’s 3 of us, blurry as promised, passing through the park the first time, headed north to Windsor Locks and the Rt. 140 bridge. Not too much to write except to continue to gush over Keney Park. The ride south, once in East Windsor, was fantastic! Farms with sheep, rams, turkeys and some randomn dude peeing on the side of the road. We cheered him on and he cheered back.

Crossing the Bissell Bridge and not too blurry! check the Beat in the background.

We eventually made it back to Keney Park and altered our second route though a tiny bit and saw more of the area. I love this park! Later, after some of us showered (some of just went and bought beer instead), we had an afterparty with a few others. I had bumped into Marisa at the Billings Forge Farmers Market earlier in the afternoon and we schemed and decided to buy a fresh pie and some farmfresh ice-cream and have a party! Mmmm…….best idea ever after a bicycle ride!

there ain't no more
so don't click read more! Read more!

Sponsorship Quest Update: Much Love to Manhattan Portage!

After having my folding bike stolen and learning that my insurance wouldn't cover it, I hatched the idea of becoming a sponsored bicycle commuter. While the idea (and accompanying blog post) was initially more of a joke than anything else, further reflection made me think that maybe I was onto something. (That tends to happen - I think my own ideas are brilliant.)

And then the internet gods smiled on me: Lauren Hoffman, who does some sort of marketing-type stuff at messenger bag company Manhattan Portage, came across this blog while Googling "Manhattan Portage." (Someone else found us by googling "pictures of elderly woman." Seriously.) Lauren left a comment on my post telling me to get in touch, which I did, and now she's going to hook me up with some fresh M.P. gear, and I'm going to show her company mad love on this blog and everywhere else, starting right now. (I should add that I have been a fan of Manhattan Portage since way back. In my bike messenger days in NYC, some 12 years ago, I used a Manhattan Portage bag. I also used to know a girl who was very petite, whom I could actually carry in said bag, which was awesome.)

Dahon, the company that makes the model of folding bike that some sucker stole from me, was not so into the sponsorship idea. They still make hot bikes, but you know what, I think they may have missed a golden opportunity. I mean, Scott Baio turned down the lead in Top Gun, and where is he now? Then again, Tom Cruise is totally crazy and I read somewhere that Scott Baio is notoriously successful with the ladies, so Dahon will probably do OK. Still, they should have sponsored me.

Now that Dahon said no to the best marketing bargain in the bike biz, I have sent my proposal to Giant, because as far as folding bicycles go, I think their Halfway is pretty cool, and to Xootr, maker of the Swift folder. Anyone else I should contact? Any other brands want to sponsor my commute? Holler at me. (And I don't care if you call me a sell-out - a new bike doesn't pay for itself, feel me?)

And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Deja Vu

As our thousands of loyal readers may remember about a month ago we had a multi-installment segment on symbiotic bike and train travel as several Beat Bloggers journeyed to the Rotten Apple to partake in the 5 Boro. Their travels took them from the Beat to Waterbury by bike and from the Dirty Water to NYC by train. Well for those who didn't read the exciting "Burros," the tearjerker "Five-Borough Ride Prequel: Heartbeat to Dirty Water to Crooklyn," or the edge-of-you-seat thriller "The 5 Boro Walk Your Bike Tour," you may wonder why not take the train from Hartford or New Haven rather than trek to dark and mysterious Waterbury? Well the answer my friends is that our heroes made this trek due to the fact that Amtrack would not house their noble two-wheeled steeds in their cars. Well be it the pattern of the Courant but todays front page story is a mirror of the Beat Bike Blog's reporting a long month ago. Regardless, their story "Bicyclists Want to Take the Train, Too" is a good example of a growing consciousness of the lack of bike infrastructure and public transportation accommodation and is an opportunity to voice your arguments on the issue. So read the article, jump on the forums, make yourselves heard, and then head back here to dish our your ideas.

Select quotes from the article:

"Bikers have no more 'right' to bring bicycles on crowded rush-hour trains than I have to haul aboard a steamer trunk." - Jim Cameron: retired TV anchor.

"People are starting to get the message," "The roads are not just for cars."
- Tom Kehoe Tom Kehoe, Democratic lawmaker and local bike legislation hero.

"Mass transportation is a nice thing for people with simple schedules. However, our society encourages us to have complex lives." - Uncreative commenter.

"Based on how much cost overrun we are seeing for the refurbishing of the railcars on the New Haven line, I'm afraid to see any of my tax dollars go to mass transit.

Finish Route 7 & 11, expand the Merritt. Thats what the average person wants."
- Self-proclaimed Iron Sheik from Fayetteville, Mass

So lets hear it friends. What does the "average" person want?!?!
Read more!

Bikes on Metro-North, Story in Today's Courant, and Battling Transportation Advocates

As of last week (in the wake of the theft of my beloved folding bike), I began traveling on Metro-North with a full-sized road bike - not just full-sized, in fact, but oversized (because when you are 6'5" and a tall frame comes your way, you acquire that frame, even if, upon further reflection, you realize the frame is more suited to someone 6'7"). I had acquired a Metro-North bicycle permit, and although the permit says bikes can only go on trains during off-peak hours, I felt confident that the peak-off-peak distinction simply didn't exist on the Waterbruy branch line. Why did I feel this way?

Well, if you look up the train schedule at Metro-North's website, for every train from Waterbury to Bridgeport (including the 6:40 a.m., which I take), there is a big "N" in the column labeled "Peak Fares Apply?"

So I felt good, and on my first attempt, there was no problem - the conductor didn't ask for the bike permit, didn't really notice the bike at all. Just the regular "All tickets please!" But yesterday, I got a semi-rhetorical line of questioning:

CONDUCTOR: "You got a permit for that bike?"
ME: "Yes sir." [I start to reach for my wallet to get the permit.]
CONDUCTOR: You ever read that permit?
ME [realizing now where he's going, but determined to play dumb]: Sure, why?
CONDUCTOR [producing a weathered paper schedule from one of the many specialized leather pouches hung from his belt]: This is a peak train. All the trains in gray are peak. There's no bikes on peak trains.

Anyway, you get the idea. I was polite, pleaded ignorance, website, etc., and he was cool, saying that I could bring the bike on as long as I kept in out of the way and it wasn't keeping people from sitting down. So, on the one hand, Thank you, conductor, for bending the rules for me in exactly the sort of no-nonsense, reasonable way that rules ought to be bent, and on the other hand, Damn you, Metro-North, for having this dumb rule! (Also, damn yoo, Waterbury car burglar, but that goes without saying.)

Apparently, I'm not the only one bemoaning this silly policy, which is great for leisure cyclists wanting to go to the 5-Boro bike tour, but not so good for regular commuters wanting to reduce their car use. In today's Courant, we learn that there is a whole campaign to get Metro-North to change the rule, which counts among its proponents none other than the CCBA's #1 Legislative Bike Pimp, Tom Kehoe (state rep. from Glastonbury).

But here's the weird thing: Jim Cameron, the head of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, opposes greater bike access to trains, because he thinks it makes seats too scarce. He says on his blog, Talking Transportation, "Bikers have no more 'right' to bring bicycles on crowded rush-hour trains than I have to haul aboard a steamer trunk." His post is actually pretty vitriolic. He also says, basically, that it's dumb to even want to bring a bike on a NYC-bound train because you could just take the subway once you get there.

Now, I agree that there should be room on the trains for everyone who needs to ride them, but I need to take ol' Jim to task on a couple things:

  1. Metro-North has no regulations regarding the carriage of steamer trunks or other large, unwieldy parcels. The only item that gets this treatment and requires a paid permit is a bicycle. So if he wants to say that bikes should have the same rights as steamer trunks, I'll back him 100%.
  2. Maybe bringing a bike to New York City is unnecessary, but I would like to remind Jim that between New Haven and the Big Apple, there are a few other places, and some all of them don't have subway systems or reliable bus systems. (cough, Bridgeport, cough, cough)
  3. If people can get bikes on the trains without taking extra seats, what's the big deal? And also, what's up with being so obsessed with there being a seat for every paying passenger? I grew up in Brooklyn, and I certainly didn't clamor for a refund on my token if I had to stand during my whole subway ride. (And if you try to tell me that the rides on Metro-North are longer, I will tell you to try living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and dating a girl in the Bronx.)

All that said, let me add one thing: Bike commuters and train commuters clearly need to be on the same page. Jim Cameron et al. should not be so rude just 'cause they personally can't imagine the utility of a bicycle. On the flip side, people bringing bikes on trains should makes sure to accommodate them somewhere other than on seats.
Also, did I mention how cool the specialized leather pouches are that Metro-North conductors carry? They have one made just for their hold punches, and that shit is awesome.
Read more!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Johanna and I went to Vermont this weekend:

This is not Savoy Mountain State Forest. This is some regrettable deforestation in Glover, VT.

On the way up we stopped at Savoy Mountain State Forest. We went for a ride on the fire roads that go through the forest. They were pleasant and it appears that there are more involved trails for mountain biking. Johanna's Lotus, while looking cool with cross tires and having some cyclocross bike characteristics, will never stop being a road bike. Thus, it's tough for it to ride around with rocks and mud. If only the bike we looked at last Friday wasn't so gigantic. The picture below is of Balanced Rock. Johanna is in the process of unbalancing the rock.

Afterwards, we continued on to North Adams to go the opening of Badlands at Mass MoCA. It was pretty awesome, with an even awesomer book designed by Dan McKinley, though the good art definitely helped in the book he made. It was very important for us to stop at the opening. The show is about the contemporary landscape. We spent the entire weekend exploring the landscape.

That evening, after the opening, we soldiered on to Vermont.

I've heard many things about Kingdom Trails in East Burke. The first is that it costs money. That part kind of sucks. The second is that it's really good. It's true. It was very much worth its $10. Look how happy I am after about 90 minutes of riding:

There are lots of nicely banked switchbacks, twisty singletrack, things going up, and things going down. They are also very well maintained trails, in the sense they are technical, but not so technical that there are not a lot of things that would cause one to crash. The hills are bigger in Vermont than they are in Connecticut, so after 4 1/2 hours of riding I was pretty tired:

There was about one more mile of singletrack after the above picture and I spilled out on this road, which had a nice view of where I'd been:

There was a Mountain bike race this weekend in Vermont in West Fairlee, which is about 90 minutes from Johanna's cottage. That would have cost me $25, was shorter, and would have required me to get up at 5am. I'm happy with my decision. Read more!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I know we're the BeatBikeBlog, but I want to mention something bike-related that's happening in New Haven on Monday that everyone should check out:

Laura McCargar is a professional associate and friend of mine, and also a kick-ass individual. She runs Youth Rights Media, a non-profit in the Elm City that teaches local teenagers how to make movies, videos, and other media as a way to effect change in their area (their slogan is "Making Media, Making Change"). They've made some great movies about interactions between young people and police in New Haven and are very active in the area of juvenile justice reform, among many other cool projects. (Seriously, you should check out their website, which, in addition to everything else, has great design.)

With the warm weather here again, a lot of the kids at Youth Rights Media have been getting harassed by New Haven Police when riding bikes, stopped on dubious traffic violations and searched without cause. So on Monday, a bunch of the YRM crew is going to meet at the flagpole on the green and have a Critical Mass-style ride through New Haven to take back the streets for young people on bikes. As the flyer above says, they're meeting on the green at noon, so if you're in the area on a bike, definitely join them and lend support. (And don't click on "read more," 'cause there is no more.)

And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Ride of Silence. May 16th. 2008

Ride of Silence.


Lightening, thunder and downpours of cold rain didn’t deter nine riders from meeting in Elizabeth Park yesterday and riding together to honor and remember fellow cyclists who have been killed or injured on the public roads as part of the international Ride of Silence. The worst of the weather occurred just before the ride as Rachel, who rode all the way from New Britain, got to experience in all its wet glory! And DANG! Did it rain! I think it started just as I left my house and continued for a while after I got to the park.

We all certainly enjoyed the ever-changing weather. The ride left Elizabeth Park in a light sprinkle and retuned with sun shining between brooding clouds. All went well. No issues with downpours, motorists or flat tires.

We rode down Asylum Avenue into downtown, under the arch, around the Capitol Building, down Capitol Avenue, down Boulevard in West Hartford, right onto Raymond Rd, past the Police Station, meandered through Blue Black Square and its live and rockin’ 50’s band and returned east along Farmington Avenue and down a side road back into the park. wow. Can you say that all in one breath?

I kept stopping myself from talking, which was hard, as part of the ride. It was also hard as I am sure there were things other people wanted to say or share as well. It was weird not talking at all and knowing there was a line of people behind me! But it did force me to think and ponder much more, which was interesting. A few times I felt more celebratory than somber and wanted to smile and shout…but didn’t.

Though we all knew what we were doing, nobody watching us ride by had any idea of what was going on; we were just nine people on bicycles. The Ride of Silence idea wasn’t clear. Next year I will certainly make a pair of signs to put on my rear rack and will encourage others to make signs as well. “Ride of Silence” or remember “Joe Smith” or “share the road” would all be great messages.

I did make a sign incase we needed to block traffic that said “Thank You For Waiting” on one side. The other side is for people who feel the need to honk their horns and reads, “Honk If You Love Bicycles.” I never got to use the sign on the ride, but I did later on by accident at The Half Door. I was showing it to Rachel, Rich H (the cool eyeglass case dude) and Steve Tizzle when another table must have seen it and a young woman gave us a “HONK” later as she left. Good times. Good Times.

Well, I have no idea who everyone was and I was a bit nervous, but I think it all turned out well and I am super happy so many people braved the weather and came out to support something important. Thank you to everyone. Keep riding safe and see you next year.

one last photo, and what a great one too! i think i really captured the essence of everyone's shoulder.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A random picture for our dear readers

Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of an old tandem that used to live in my yard. Enjoy! Read more!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

this week in the beat. may 20-23

grease your chains y’all cuz its gonna be a wet week and there’s much going on in the city.

Progressive Happy hour at Kenny’s (red rock) 9:30 pm til close usually! Corner of capitol and Lawrence street. Look for the outdoor patio with lots of bicycles locked up to it! There’s more iron fence to lock a bicycle to than you can shake a stick at! Or a lock! Or just come inside and shake it! There’s Karoake! Join a bunch of progressive thinking, veggie growing, meat eating (well, some of us!), bicycling, political debating, beer drinking, curly fry eating boys and girls! The nickel and dimers that make it happen! The true best and brightest of Hartford!

The Ride of Silence will begin at Elizabeth Park at 7pm on Wednesday, May 21st. The Hartford ride will be about 12 miles and is expected to take just over an hour. This is one of 277 rides being done on the same day in 17 countries around the world. It is a memorial ride to remember and honor fellow bicyclists who have been killed or injured on public roads. Please check the Ride of Silence website for more information. The ride will be led by Dave Rinquest of the CCBA.

Thursday, May 22, the Farmers’ Market at Billings Forge opens with many vendors, live music, picnic tables and a grand ‘ol time from 11am to 2pm. Its fresh! The market is located in the Firebox parking lot on Broad street only a few buildings south of Capitol Ave. (Shell station) You can pay with EBT/Foodstamps, credit card, debit card and they even take US cash! Bring your own reusable bag and buy fruits, vegetables, honey, locally roasted coffee, salsa, local beef, fresh ice cream, arts and crafts, falafel and empanadas ready to eat! Dang I’m getting hungry. Mad props to the Market Master Hanna Grant!

The market will be open Mondays and Thursdays though the month of October, 11am to 2pm. Its Fresh!

Friday House Happy Hour @ the Tiki Bar @ sully’s! yeah baby! get down with dj mike Johnson keepin’ the house beats bouncin’ outside and dj darkman inside with old school hiphop and r&b early and the band sirsy later on. $5 donation requested.
Free pizza, drink specials, chair massages and the usual chill vibe. lots of fence to lock to, but harass chris and rob to make it easier for bicycles to lock to it!! Also check the new waterfall, its super mad ridiculously chill there now.

it says READ MORE!

but there ain't no more to read suckas!

HEY! i said there wasn't no mo to read fool!

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This Car-Loving Nation of Ours

In yesterday's New York Times, beard-having liberal Paul Krugman mused about why we Americans can't give up our cars: He says it's because we all live in suburbs and exurbs that were built with cars in mind. He compares this state of affairs to some neighborhood in Berlin (Germany, not Connecticut) where he's hanging out: "a pleasant, middle-class neighborhood consisting mainly of four- or five-story apartment buildings, with easy access to public transit and plenty of local shopping."

Krugman says that there aren't enough such places in the U.S. of A., but here's the thing: I live in such a place - it's called West Hartford (well, not so many four- and five-story buildings, but otherwise similar). And you know what? People still drive everywhere. I live about six blocks from the grocery store, and I am the only person I ever see walking to get groceries. My house is under a mile from West Hartford center, but none of our neighbors ever walk there. There is a bus stop at the end of our block, but I have not seen anyone take the bus from there in the eight months since I moved in. Frankly, the only people I ever see on foot in my neighborhood are (a) children, (b) people walking dogs, and (c) joggers.

Ken had a recent post on this here blog about the American love affair with cars and he called it "Americans Still Stupid . . . or Trapped." In the comments, Caitlynne took issue with the title, saying, Krugman-style, "It's not us- people are great! It's the SYSTEM, man!" The example of West Hartford (and of so many other close, accessible, walkable suburbs) makes me want to throw my lot in with Ken and say that dumb Americans are in the grip of some deep foolishness. Paul Krugman's beard (and, to a certain degree, his eloquence) and Caitlynne's earnestness make me want to throw my lot in with them and blame years of bad planning (and more than a little racism and classism, which have encouraged people to flee the cities whenever possible). So I ask you, dear readers, who's right?

(Don't click on "read more" below. There's no more to read, but "read more" shows up automatically.)
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Sponsors Wanted

(Photo by Meaglin, of WikiMedia Commons.)

As the post below this one makes clear, I am lately deprived of the pleasure of my folding bicycle. My insurance deductible is $1,000, which exceeds the value of said whip, so that's that - it's the road bike or nothing. Clearly, this is not the end of the world; people are undergoing far greater suffering as we speak. But I do want a new folder, because strapping my road bike to the roof of my Corolla, although it works, makes me nervous and distracts me from safe driving. (You know what else distracts me? The roaring wind through my broken fucking window! Waterbury car burglar, I will kill you!) And while I am a lawyer, I am a public interest lawyer with two kids and a mountain of debt, so I can't really buy a new bike right now. Which leads me to the following brilliant idea . . .

I need a company to sponsor me. The company will provide free gear (bike, t-shirts, bag) and I will provide ceaseless, high-profile endorsement. I realize that usually, people who get sponsorships participate in some sort of sporting activity that other people care about (Nascar, basketball, etc.). But let me suggest something: Bicycle commuting is the new, um, thing that is hot. Look - everywhere we see news stories about the skyrocketing cost of gas, about people showing renewed interest in alternative transportation, about bike week. Bicycle companies are making more models aimed at commuters. So clearly, this is a market that needs a spokesperson.

And really, who better than me? While I'm not terribly attractive (I've been told I have a face that's perfect for radio), I'm not too ugly, and if nothing else, I'm tall. I have a crazy, multi-modal commute, which shows off the benefits of a folding bike. I work with poor children, so I have that do-gooder appeal. And I speak Spanish, so I could reach the ever-growing Hispanic immigrant population!

Seriously, folding bike companies, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. As it is, I have frequently sung the praises of my (now stolen) Dahon folder to other commuters, who were always interested in the bike when I took it on the train, and I have documented my bike travels and exploits on this blog, which has been seen by hundreds of people, including one in Poland! If you would just set me up with a new bike, I would tirelessly spread the gospel of bike commuting, folding bikes, and maybe also human beatboxing, because that is fast becoming a lost art. I would take the train to New York and show up at high-profile bike events there. I would go up to Boston for stuff there. I would, of course, keep the Beat on lock. If you wanted, I would hobnob with the rich and famous, or host charity events, or star in a series of television ads. Just set me up with a new bike! (Dahon, I'm especially looking at you. That Cadenza with the 8-speed, internally geared hub and the disc brakes is the hotness, and I will make that bike a star if you will just give me one for free.)

And bike accessory companies, you can get in on the act too! Kryptonite, I already love you guys for that one time you replaced my lock with no questions asked after it started seizing up in the cold. Let's talk! BaileyWorks, I love your shit too (but Timbuk2, Manhattan Portage, Chrome, ReLoad, you guys are doing good work too, and I will totally work with you (especially ReLoad!)). Helmet makers, light makers, companies that make stylish bike clothes, you guys can all get in on this act (and by stylish, I'm thinking Swobo, not all that spandex business, you feel me?).

So basically, I need stuff but I don't have money (or shame). Let's talk.
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Sunday, May 18, 2008


Sad but true. I drove to Waterbury on Saturday with my beloved folder in the trunk, planning to take the bike on Metro-North down to NYC so I could ride to my 10-year-college reunion and get around in the city. But I stupidly left my lock home, so I left the bike folded up in the trunk of the car and traversed New York by subway. And today when I returned, some miscreant had broken a window, ransacked the car, and made off with the bike and my ipod shuffle. It was a black Dahon Jack, which is a folding bike with 26" wheels. It had swept-back, touring style handlebars, a grip shifter attached to a bar end (see this post for a picture of the handlebars), a rear rack, and big BMX-style pedals. It also had many stickers. If you see this bike, or if someone tries to sell you this bike, or if you happened to be in the parking lot of the Waterbury Metro-North station in the middle of the night on Saturday night and saw the dastardly act take place, do the following two things:

(1) Leave a comment with details.

(2) If the offender is within arm's length, kindly provide him/her with a judicious punch in the neck on my behalf.

Also, before all (six) of you loyal readers organize the Replacement Bikes For Public Interest Lawyers fundraising concert, know that I've filed both a police report and an insurance claim (both for the broken glass and the stolen items), so I may just weather this great calamity without financial hardship. But if you decide to organize the concert anyway, can you make sure Ghostface Killa is on the bill? Because that would be hot. Read more!

Bike Everywhere! (to Happy Hour)

CCBA Bike Everywhere Bike to Happy Hour. friday, may 16th

I’m going to cut to the chase here, and give props ASAP to the core group that laughed at the rain and rode their bikes to the Bike Everywhere Happy Hour at the Corner Pug today. Big ups to Steve Tudisco, Ben Bare, ChillWillme!), Rich H, Matt Spader, Kevin Sullivan and Robyn Baena. Good on y’all mates! Well done! ‘nuff respect.

All in all, we were 11 strong, with most people biking or walking, and only three or four drivers. Long commutes (from Enfield etc) and massive bicycle tire and clothing issues resulting in wide spread wetness and bandaged fingers all get free passes...this time! Its great to see people putting the B of the CCBA to good use! Woo-haa!

So what happened? Well, what happens at CCBA happy hours stay at CCBA happy hours. I can say many wings and nachos were consumed and washed down by rounds of pints of frothy, beautiful beer. mmmm…beeeer! Flyers were passed out, stories shared, plots schemed and other things occurred as well. The club even bought the first few rounds of brew and noshes. Good lookin’ out CCBA!

Expect another CCBA Happy Hour next month and we shall welcome the weather no matter what mother nature feels like sharing with us! Rain, sleet, snow, heat, river mud or locusts, we shall ride on. Hopefully in June we will be sitting outside in the late evening sun; plotting a late night ride through Bushnell Park, snaking through downtown and down the stairs and along the riverfront and across the river. Bridges! Hells yeah! Y’alls know what I’m talking about.

Always bring your lights and spares/tools etc cuz ya never know what might happen.

Also this summer: Bike to Jazz in the Park. Live jazz in Bushnell Park Monday Evenings. Picnic blanket republics form and establish pot-luck trade routes of noshes and wine under summer night skies. Enjoy the city, the music, the people, the entire vibe of the park. This annual series is always an evening my city shines and I am super happy to live and work here.

more photos after the jump:
(hey! that means click READ MORE!)

Rich (seen in the backgroung looking quite amused) has the most amazing eyeglass case. take a good look at him. if you ever see him out at a party, perhaps enjoying happy hour or about to sit down and enjoy the theater … make a point of saying hey, hello, hi, how ya doing and ask to see his eyeglass case. Its brilliant!

Ha! Double B leaving “coincidently” right after the CCBA tab runs out. hmm….

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Americans Still Stupid...or Trapped

$65 tanks of gas, every week. Boy it hurts. But the sprawling suburban country is not giving up its addiction to the car without a fight.

According to this reuters piece, Americans are still in love with the car.

"It’s U.S. National Bike to Work Day on Friday and Americans are facing record high gasoline prices, but most commuters will stick to their cars." Wrote John Hurdle.

What can be done? Maybe $100 tanks of gas. Or better bicycle infrastructure. Or people moving into the cities.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

bike week in da beat

bike week in da beat. its on and poppin’. been mad busy. no time for sleep.

check the bike everywhere BIKE TO HAPPY HOUR event today, Friday, at the corner pug in west Hartford. 5:30 til yer done.

last night was creative cocktail hour at real art ways and, as usual, the bike rack was full…and then some. hopefully will will put in more bicycle parking. ha! i said will twice. there was lots more art this month than the last few CCH's and I was super happy about that. I like the party aspect, no doubt, but i really do enjoy getting there before it gets crowded and spending time time checking out the art. I really liked a few of the pieces. the hanging plexiglass installation was fun to wonder through and I did like the wall of old photos. it was like a peak into someone’s life, their past, and I thought of my own old family photos. the headphone/video/interview pieces weren’t making it happen for me. perhaps on a non-party night and some time to willingly invest, I might like it.

great food too from barca on park street. Jamie gave me a card good for a glass of wine. and then more good food. mmm…

more photos way below after the jump.

this morning was Bike to Work at the old state house sponsored by the CCBA and several state departments. juice and bagels and some crazy bikes too! check ben bare’s ride. two crates! dang that’s sweet. i don’t find the front basket overkill either and I heard some talk about a trailer being attached. I think its just missing a cupholder.

el presidente de china and his folding bike were in the house. check the shifter. WTF? the man is a crazed, unelected, out of control madman with a finger on the button and a beer in his other hand. this is the bike that rides dikes, rides stairs and rode to the dirty water.

Wednesday night about a dozen CCBA members and a few new heads met up at Lena’s for the bike everywhere! bike to dinner dinner. ha! I said dinner twice. we sat outside in the back patio near the new waterfall and enjoyed $2 drafts from the tiki bar. The CCBA kicked in for the pizza and I believe somewhere out there exists a photo of everyone. if a second photo of me flashing ever surfaces, please understand, its just a photoshop job, trust me. it’s a fake I tell you!

want more? click on the read more button for the rest of the story:

i don't remember how we got those to stick to people. thanks for the exposure tj.

the george keller hood was well rep'd. hollerrrrrrr.

there was a really good reason for taking this photo...i think...but i don't remember.

sweet boots! i really wish i got more of the boots in the photo! what was i thinking? what are they thinking?

and what are they thinking? every time i take a photo of three people it comes out strange. i initially just thought it was the staten island ferry, but perhaps its far more wide spread.

i have no idea why we are smiling. we were hungry and walked across the street from the spigot to get wings from wings, but it was closed. but we were there. and happy. but hungry. but happy. the post CCH party at the spigot was in celebration of the birthdays of maura and johnny. happy birthday again y'all!

i think this photo speaks for itself. but i have no idea what its saying.

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Take Your Daughter's Bike To Work Day

Well, I was excited to be the first to post about Bike To Work Day (I mean, the official one; y'all know that e'ery day is Bike To Work day for the BBB crew), but stupid flickr wouldn't let me upload my pictures, and a blog post without pictures is like, um, a thing without the other thing that makes it better. Anyway, chillwill beat me to the punch, but now I have a few more pictures. So, click on "read more" to see the post I boldly penned this morning, and the pictures I boldly took.

Yes, it's true. Drunk off the heady, alternative transportation optimism spawned by a week of bike-related events, tens of bike commuters gathered in the shadow of the Old State House (where our Connecticut forefathers signed the Fundamental Orders after riding their bikes to work back in 1639) to eat bagels, drink coffee, and revel in the Boston accent of D.E.P. Commissioner Gina McCarthy and the bold proclamation that May 16 would once again be known as Bike to Work day in Hartford. (City Council Prez. Calixto Torres read the proclamation, which Mayor Eddie Perez had lovingly composed at an earlier date.) Chillwill and I were there, repping the BBB to the fullest. Naturally, I took some pictures:

I don't know if it's a lack of good publicity on the part of the organizers or a testament to just how autocentric Central Connecticut is, but you sure couldn't tell that it was a special day for riding bikes to work. This photo is representative of the number of bikes I saw on my way from West Hartford.

Of the thirty-odd people present, those in street clothes may actually have constituted the minority. Understand me: I have nothing against matching spandex outfits, but if you're biking to work and you have to carry a whole set of clean clothes and keep them from getting wrinkled, isn't that, like, a pain? And what if you're on your way home and you get a call saying, "Come meet us at this bar!" ('cause that's what it's all about, right? Bike Everywhere, you know?) Are you going to chill at the bar dressed like a safety-conscious superhero? Not hatin', just statin'.

The unassuming leaders of the bike rebellion, Gina McCarthy and Calixto Torres, read their proclamation dissolving city government and declaring the two-wheeled dictatorship. Their loyal footsoldiers look on with approval.

As with all good bike advocacy events, there were freebies. These included stainless steel waterbottles, tape measures (I guess they couldn't afford cyclocomputers, so they went for a cheaper distance measurement tool), and lots of stickers. There were some day-glo ones that said "BE SAFE, BE SEEN," and back at the office I was able to rearrange them into "YA SABES," which is much better.

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