Monday, June 30, 2008

"Heeeeey…..White People?!??" Critical Mass June 2008

The sweet, light rain really cooled things off a bit before blue skies began appearing along with the sun. Mother Nature appears to be down with the ride, good lookin’ out! The beat crew met up after work by the river to trade flyers, brews and bullshit a bit. We arrived at the Carousel to 20 people milling about; chillin’, meetin’, greetin’, hydratin’ and wrenchin’.

There was a floor pump courtesy of Dave and a few bikes were getting tubes swapped out and hubs debated. Rick! Another flat dude!?!?!? Super cool to see everyone helping each other out and sharing beta. Caresse's hands are blurry fast when she's working on a bike! Dang! Breck seems to be trying to pump with Jedi mind tricks whilst Dave handles the valves! Also super cool to see a banana seat! I really should have taken more photos, but this ride was just too much fun.

A few more riders arrived. Brendan returned from the portapotty. And then my dream came true… Critical Mass left for Keney Park! Woo-haa! There are a lot of lights between Bushnell Park and getting’ onto Main Street and we worked out the kinks of dealing with traffic lights. We quickly forked left on to Albany Avenue.

Yep, we took The Avenue!

Most everyone cheered and yelled as much as we cheered and yelled. One 'round the way dude looked up in honest bewilderment and a smile, “heeeeyyy…White People?!??!” We took a right onto Woodland and left on Greenfield. I corked the Woodland/Greenfield intersection and had a great conversation with a family in a mini-van, waiting at the green light for the bicycles to pass through safely as a group. I thanked them for waiting and keeping people safe and talked about the ride. I invited them to come next month and they seemed interested in coming! Right on! I saw them two more times with the pops giving us the thumbs up out the window. They were following us! I had a great time talking to drivers all along the ride and most were receptive, patient and super nice. The drivers of the North End were much friendlier than the drivers we encountered on last month's ride into West Hartford!

The ride through Keney Park was a mix of roads and car-free greenway. We saw the skyline of Hartford overlooking lush grass meadows, passed through dense forest and pedaled alongside a golf course. This is a great park. I always love spending time here on a road bike or exploring trails on mountain bikes. We didn't pass the pond and fountain though...this time.

We exited onto Rt. 159 and pedaled south on North Main, Windsor Street, left over the railroad tracks and crossed Weston Street; entering into the mess of traffic due to Pearl Jam and some jack-ass drivers. We got onto the riverfront via Riverside Park and continued south along the river to the Colt Building and Colt Park. Ahhh...riding along the river is always a good idea!

We passed the remains of the Virgin Mary Shrine and returned to Bushnell Park on Wethersfield Avenue.

more funny photos after the jump from the afterparty that happened afterwards, Read More!

After regrouping at the park the group split a few ways. We had already lost a few people needin’ to get to the concert and a few chilled in the park for a bit. A group stayed in the park and went to the Bushnell Park CafĂ© and another to Kenney’s (Red Rock Tavern) a few minutes away on Cap Ave. There’s some serious mileage of iron patio fence there, perfect for bike locks. The always-friendly Donnie keeps the show runnin’ smoothly and really makes sure everyone’s always got a smile on their face.

Check the reflection of the view of the skyline from our patio seats!

Check it. The rule of three people in a photo = weird shit continues!

I have absolutely no idea what the hell I am doing. Hi Joey Barber! I owe you a bell!

Brendan is a triceritops! And i just realized i never spelllchecked this before posting.

We really stepped things up on this ride as far as corking and Joel enjoyed sweeping and ensuring no one was left behind. Many others stepped up too! Thanks to everyone for making it such a great ride.

Read more!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why we should always ride bikes: Beauty

I don't mean that bike-riding makes us beautiful, although my own sculptured physique may suggest that it does. Rather, bicycling has the most felicitous of speeds: Fast enough to be a useful means of transportation but slow enough to give the rider ample opportunity to appreciate beauty in all of the little ways it manifests itself. Case in point: Last night around 10:30, I was in the middle of one of my ever-more-frequent rides to Middletown to retrieve my car. On Willow Street in Wethersfield, I was riding past a dark open space somewhat lower than the roadway - maybe a ballfield or a swamp or pond - when I noticed a lovely green twinkling pervading the darkness below the horizon, sort of like those hundreds of flash bulbs you see going off in the stands during slow-motion replays of important moments in baseball games. Naturally, it was lightning bugs, which are not, per se, something worthy of comment. But honestly, I had never seen lightning bugs quite like this: When I was a kid, I would spend twilight at my grandparents' suburban house chasing two or three fireflies around the edge of the yard, tracking then in the growing gloom and trying to catch them in a jar (or in my hand, so I could smush them and smear their glowy stuff on me). But these bugs in Wethersfield were something else altogether: Thousands and thousands of them spread out over a quarter mile space, flashing and flashing without any concern for prowling kids or anything else, like the last sparkle of distant fireworks repeated over and over in an uninterrupted darkness. I think it was the first time since I was eight that lightning bugs inspired me with such unchecked wonder.

Sadly, my digital camera was completely unable to detect this little miracle, so all I can do is recommend that everyone take a bike ride south down Willow Street from Wells Road to Prospect Street in Wethersfield some summer night and look to the right. The sublime, quiet minutes you will spend contemplating fireflies are absolutely worth the trip. Read more!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I don't know why this image quality is so bad, nor do I know why I decided to take a picture of my bike in front prayer flags. I hope no one makes fun of me.

I am angry. Some asshole stole the bag and light off the back of my bike last night when it was locked up in Will's back yard. If you see someone with a red light and a black Gary Fisher bag, which looks less pixelized than in this picture, do something not nice to them.

That aside, Critical Mass was a lot of fun last night. It actually kind of felt like a bike ride instead of a mass of people standing around confused at stop lights.
Read more!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Scenic Commute

One sunny morning last week I took the East Hartford route to work and cruised the riverfront in between crossing two bridges. This is only slightly longer than my short commute and i get to ride along the river and avoid Wethersfield Avenue's traffic, potholes and prostitutes. Cap Ave, Bushnell Park, Constitution Plaza and over the Founders Bridge and down, around, under the overpass and over the dike, tight hairpin to the left to avoid i84 and yer all downhill to the riverfront. Then its just a sweet ride on the greenway next to all these great, big ‘ol river trees and of course the river itself.

Just after passing under the Founders I saw this massive horse. Freakin’ Huge!

Here’s some beta about President Lincoln, also a towering presence!

South of the boat ramp the trail weaves through trees whilst other hang over the river, trying to stay rooted into the eroding bank.

Two more photos after the jump! read more!

City line. Everything here is so clean and pretty.

A nicer shot of the city. Since none of these pictures were blurry, I thought slightly askew would suffice

Read more!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rant: Faulty legal advice from a chump in a car

So this morning I was tooling my way to work from West Hartford when a guy started saying something to me as he drove by. I didn't hear him but his tone didn't sound aggressive, so when he stopped at a light and I caught up to him, I stopped and asked what was up. Here's the conversation:

Me: What's up?
Connecticut license plate 316 TEC: You're not allowed to ride in the street.
Me: Whaddya mean? Where am I supposed to ride?
CLP316TEC: On the sidewalk.
Me: Actually, the law says I am allowed to ride on the street, I promise you.
CLP316TEC: [drives off and turns onto the I-84 on-ramp]

Now, as a lawyer, I know better than to go around giving out legal advice to strangers. It's gauche and it's annoying. I also know better than to give out bad legal advice. So this guy's theory that I'm not allowed to ride on the street really irks me. Maybe he meant that I'm not allowed by him, in the same way that I don't allow most baseball teams to beat the Mets (and they frustratingly don't listen). But just in case he really thinks the law is on his side, or in case any of you other herbs out there think so, let me break it down for you:

Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-286a: Rights, duties and regulation of cyclists.
(a) Every person riding a bicycle, as defined by section 14-286, upon the traveled portion of a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any vehicle subject to the requirements of the statutes relating to motor vehicles, except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application and except that each town, city or borough and the State Traffic Commission within its jurisdiction as provided in section 14-298 shall have authority to regulate bicycles as provided in section 14-289 and said section 14-298, and except as provided by section 14-286c. No parent of any child and no guardian of any ward shall authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward to violate any provision of the general statutes or ordinances enacted under section 14-289 relating to bicycles.

Got that, 316 TEC? Well, there's more. West Hartford, which is where you were when you tried to drop knowledge on me, actually forbids bicycle riding on many of its sidewalks but places no restriction on riding on any of its streets. (Don't believe me? Check here.) So thanks for the tip and everything, and thanks for being so polite about it (except for the driving-away-abruptly part), but shut the hell up. Read more!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Sprawl (Debate?)


Sprawl is a constant consideration of mine and a frequent topic of the discussions found on this blog. This is for good reason, as many of the problems that concern us regarding the shortfalls and maladies of the city of Hartford can be directly attributed to this phenomenon which drew from the city so much of its vitality, energy, and population. Similarly, sprawl has also contributed to many of the environmental problems that inspire us the bloggers, and you the readers, to ride your bikes as much as possible in order to reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and our dependence on fossil fuels.

An editorial in the Courant today not only reminded me of many of these issues but also solidified my opinions of how intricately connected all of these problems are to one another. Reading the comment section (I know, I know a recipe for frustration) it is clear why these issues are so pervasive as so many people either deny, discredit, or simply write off these issues. However, if we are to stop sprawl and advocate an environment friendly towards alternative transportation we need to inform ourselves and challenge those that reject this reality. This includes the following reader who had this to say...

"Sprawl" is a commie term for people expressing their freedoms, and anyone who hates it is jealous, and is anti-American. Screw you, you long haired smelly hippy bastids who use the social-control term "sprawl". Jeff H.

There is, however, several glimmers of positivity in these posts, including the following...

"Associating smart growth with a communist mentality is paranoid in the extreme. Fortunately, more and more people in the Hartford area (and nationally) are beginning to see the wisdom of growing more sustainably. To reiterate, there is a wide gulf between forcing people to live, work and shop in certain places and encouraging them to transact their personal and professional lives where their impact on the environmental and geographic landscape will be most beneficial. As some of the previous comments indicate, some people need to be educated about the connections between land use, gas prices and climate change. To the extent that the Courant and the cognoscenti can provide the information that will help people make better choices, the path toward a more sustainable region will be more easily traveled."

This blog is here to provide you with, or direct you towards this information. Take a look at the editorial and soak up some info.

P.S. A poster also provided this link, which while not about Hartford is well worth visiting and sets a worthy example: Read more!

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin

I was going to write a post about riding at Mr. Washington State Forest this weekend with Johanna, but I just read that George Carlin died. That sucks. Too much death this year.

Read more!

On Superheroes

Sprocket Man was a creation of of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, designed to get the kids excited about bike safety (and spandex, presumably). I found him at the World's Worst Comic Book Museum, which is a great website.

On Saturday, Brendan and I, along with some other people at my house, got to talking about superheroes and their logistical dilemmas and policy choices. This is a matter that needs further reflection and the input of the interwebs. We were talking about how superheroes always operate in large cities (usually New York or some New York proxy) and how they're always concerned primarily with the Big Menaces (supervillains, meteors hurtling toward earth, etc.). Conveniently for them, the Big Menaces always get started or are soluble in big cities - and in fact, that's convenient for all mankind, because if Lex Luthor had decided to hatch his diabolical plots in Sioux City, Iowa, he probably would have totally flown below Superman's radar until it was too late, and then Superman's only recourse would have been to fly around the earth backward to reverse time, and he would have had to put up with flashbacks of Marlon Brando saying, "It is forbidden," which is tolerable if the reward is some R and R with Margot Kidder in her prime, but not so much when you're playing catch-up to keep California from getting sunk into the ocean or whatever.

What we wondered was, could Hartford have a superhero? How would this person effectively locate crime and vanquish it? Because even with surveillance cameras they haven't been able to find the people who ran over Angel Arce Torres, right? So what could a superhero bring to the table in that situation? Brendan was concerned that superheroes should know their beat intimately - one for the South End, one for the North End, etc. - because the social norms vary from community to community and you wouldn't want some masked avenger coming in the mix, misapprehending a situation, and causing more trouble than he solved (or getting arrested himself, which risk especially concerned Brendan). Would a network of neighborhood superheroes, working in separate jurisdictions but with constant communication and the ability team up as needed, be the right model for the Beat? Would they be called upon to be super in neighboring communities too small to maintain their own corps of superheroes, like Willimantic or Bristol? Given the large number of heroes needed to make this model work, would non-superpowered people with cool gadgets (a la Iron Man and Batman) suffice? This is a matter that needs some serious reflection in the comments.

Also, assuming we like the neighborhood-based, non-superpowered superheroes, is a bicycle a good thing for the job? On the one hand, it allows the hero to move quickly around the area while maintaining more maneuverability than if s/he were in a car. (Also, lower costs, nice to the environment, etc.) On the other hand, a superhero who can be effectively flummoxed by a flat tire or thrown chain is kinda lame. Read more!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Old News

I write this as I'm about to drive to Vermont, which is a stupid idea considering the price of gas.

Anyway, I just read an interesting article from a few weeks ago on Smart people and columnists write about raising gas price to do all sorts of things like cut down on miles and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. You know, all that environmentalist stuff. Well, I guess high gas prices really do cut down on mileage.

Comparing March of '07 to March of '08, a Federal Highway Administration report showed a decrease of 4.3% in miles driven in America, which translates to 11 billion fewer miles. That's crazy! Gas prices are may higher now, I wonder what April, May, and June reports will show.

I try to avoid getting on that "one less car" bandwagon or the environmental benefits of cycling bandwagon, mostly because I find that evangelizing to to be smug and preening. But, I had to point some attention to this article. I mean, that's a lot of miles. Read more!

7 days to Critical Mass


Blooming beat bicycle scene


Next friday! Meet at Bushnell Park 5:30pm. Leave about 6ish.

Print, copy, hand out! Make yer own. Make it happen!

don't "Read More" Read more!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jazz Fest, or Lurking Under Bridges.

Bridge and Bikes
After working out some technical difficulties I have finally managed to upload my personal photos for posting and as such now can publish this very belated post. One of the most fun nights of riding bikes around Hartford I've had to date...

So after getting out of work early the Saturday before last I had ambitions of riding down to the riverfront to take in some cool jazz (or jass, as Brendan has pointed out it should rightfully be refered). However, as is often the case with Saturdays plans were slowly pushed back and it was not until after a quick ride out to Bloomfield, a couple post-ride beers, and a friend's delayed arrival, that Ben, Sonny, and I made it down to the river around 7.30 as the Jazz was wrapping up. Being as hot as it was and wanting to partake in a couple of cold beverages, we cruised across the plaza, descended the stairs past the bandstand, and took a nice spot on the grass down the walkway where we could simultaneously grab a cold drink and listen to the music.

We took some random bike pictures, including my Panasonic laying in the grass with the river meandering in the background.....
The Panasonic

Chillwill showed up shortly thereafter and we all sat among our bikes in the grass and enjoyed the excellent resource that the riverfront really is.
He particularly enjoyed his envelope coozey on this hot summer day, all business...

After an hour or so hunger took over and we decided to roll into West Hartford to BBQ. However, as we got ready to leave Chillwill declared that we really shouldn't go anywhere as it was going to pour. The sky was starting to darken and a breeze was picking up put we didn't think much of it. Will, however, was unwaivering and insisted if we wanted to go we could but he wasn't going to leave the protection of the bridge we had ridden under by this point. I kept going, but upon getting out from under the south side of the Founder's bridge felt a few raindrops and thought Will might be on to something. Turning around I concurred that we might want to sit it out and the others agreed. Ben, however, was already gone, about to ride into the eye of the storm.

A storm it was, though the three of us that remained were happily tucked under the bridge as the rain came down in sheets and we sat on the levy finishing our beverages and shooting pics...
The light was quite low but the pictures are kind of interesting...
Sitting on the levy with the rain kicking up light spots on the river....

Rain pouring off the highway and out of a culvert...

While we sat comfortably on the levy, Ben, however, was not so fortunate and rode like a madman through the rain and wind all the way back to West Hartford wet and alone (sorry buddy). After the rain finished up the three of us who remained nonchalantly rode home reasonably dry and safe (excepting of course Sonny's run in with a gate, no harm no foul.) Food was eventually had in the form of Park Lane grinders where we happened to catch Brendan and Johanna rolling down Quaker. Good to see other bikers out in the storm.

All in all a good night to be in the city and the perfect time to get caught under the protective spans of a bridge.
Read more!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pesky Kids (an update concerning my recent absence from two wheels)

I've been off the bike for the past few days, unfortunately, because my dear wife is away doing research in Nicaragua until Monday the 23rd, leaving me in sole control of my two young terrorists. Usually, the whole family can travel by bike, because Anna has a seat on the back of her rig for the little one and I tow the bigger one in the trailer, but with two kids and one adult, the equation gets complicated. Also, their preschool is in Middletown (near Anna's work), and even if I did have a two-kid trailer, I couldn't get them to school then get me to work in a timely fashion if I had to ride all the way there.

All of which is to say, I am going crazy because I have a great new bike but I'm not getting to ride it. I can say that before the wife went away, I got to ride from Middletown to New Haven and back on my Swift folder, and the hype is true: The thing really does hold up nicely on long rides, with many of the favorable long-distance attributes of full-sized road bikes. Unfortunately, it also suffers from some of the same deficits of full-sized bikes, namely, if you make the stupid mistake of riding 50 miles on a 100-degree day, it will not help you to feel less overheated. Also, if you ride it to Kenny's for PHH on a Tuesday night and it has a slow leak in the back tire and you are stupid enough not to carry a spare tube, it will not save you from having to walk home.

In other sponsor news, the Manhattan Portage businessy commuter bag is performing admirably. Before I was de-bike-ified by my wife's departure, I took it on a mid-sized grocery run, filled it to the brim, and switched from shoulder strap to backpack straps for carrying comfort. That was great. And since then, I've been lugging my laptop and lunch and voluminous court filings around the state in it and it has been everything I'd ever hoped for in a bag. Also, the "waterproof fabric treatment," about which I was skeptical, did pretty well in one of the recent torrential downpours (which I rode through to go get beers at Kenny's): Everything in the bag actually stayed dry! Thanks, Manhattan Portage, you champion of companies! Read more!

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Developments in Parking

Hey. Where do you think Hartford needs bike racks?


This stuff is actually happening, so it's meaningful. I just got out of a meeting with DPW, Parking Authority, and another Council aide about the first phase. Read more!

Encouranging things

I stole this from BikeBlog. It's an article about Barack Obama talking to Bikes Belong about committing to funding cycling and pedestrian initiatives when he's elected president. I think it's good that we keep this blog most a-political, but when a politician/candidate does some bike-friendly, there's no reason not to write about it. I tried finding something about John McCain with a bike, but the best I could do was this and this.

I guess it's Mayor Daley who generally gets to take credit for all the bike lanes and that sort of stuff in Chicago, but Obama is a Senator for that state (and from that City).

In semi-related news, Vernon isn't all bad.

Anybody take a good ride this weekend? Read more!

Bikes on MetroNorth

In a decision that flew largely below the news radar and is first mentioned here almost a week after its occurrence, Governor Rell announced that she was requiring MetroNorth to make increased accommodations for bicycles on 380 new trains currently on order. Following previous Beatbikeblog discussions and discussed in this article, the move attempts to address the increasing demand for a bicycle infrastructure connected to rail transportation. The Governor's order calls not only for more bike-specific spaces on trains but also for bike racks at Connecticut stations and a review of policies regarding transporting bikes in rail cars.

As is its tendency, the comment section of the article provides a heated debate not only of the state of these resources but of the inherent right to take bikes on the train.

One commenter writes:
"I guess the Gov doesn't ride the train to NYC during the rush hour, the commuter train is for commuters not bikes, but If thats what "SHE" wants the people should buy it for her.

Following this argument I guess the commenter does not consider bike commuters actual commuters but of some lower class of transients as he continues stating,

"Well I'll come right out and say this I'm a conductor for this RR and being on this side of the fence, I can look at the issue from both sides, Yes it is a great way to help the the gas problem,and global warming and all that. but from the other side we cater to the working class that as of now take Buses,subways,taxis,and walk the "last mile" the last thing this city needs is people trying to get though NYC traffic on bikes."

Supposedly, as this conductor states, the rail system "caters to the working class" which is not interested in bicycle transportation and furthermore this policy is doing New York a favor by keeping bike of its streets as well. Both comments, I assume, are hard for (you) the bikeophile to swallow yet the poster is quickly agreed with by another commenter who writes,

"As someone who had nearly been run down by careless bicyclists who ignore red lights, AMEN!!
As to the bikes on the train, why should someone whe has paid hundreds of dollars for a monthly ticket have to stand because the new cars have fewer seats so a small percentage of people can bring their bikes on."

As is often the case this reader assumes that as their transportation arrangement trumps those of others as it may be considered more typical or "normal". Their payment of a monthly ticket (supposedly) suggests that their needs should be prioritized. Well what then I ask of the needs of another commuter who pays for a ticket, and even an additional ticket for their bike, and chooses to ride to work by a combination of methods? Are their needs not equal?

Read more!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rick Green, stop pedaling ON 84 to get across the river!

I was excited to read about a column entitled, Grabbing Idea By The Handlebars. I usually like Rick Green's Column. I like this one except he really got something really wrong and so i gots to speak up and let people know.

Five paragraphs in, Green writes, “In Hartford, it is nearly impossible to safely ride to cross the river and easily ride through the city.” Huh? Sorry dude, but what the hell are you writing about? I assume, “to cross” was supposed to be “across” but who knows? Perhaps my assuming is making an ass outta me?

Have you ever even ridden across the river? Really? Or even walked across? What was so dangerous?! I wanna know. Please comment and answer, the people demand the truth!

There’s a freakin’ 20 foot wide pedestrian/bicycle lane on the Founders Bridge completely separated from the highway. And both the Charter Oak Bridge and the Bulkley Bridge have pedestrian/bicycle walkways that are also completely separated from the highway. Unless you are either crossing on the railroad bridge or riding a bicycle on the actual interstate; there is no danger from cars. None!

And then, whilst i am still wailing from the bridge comment, gasping and horrified at all the would-be commuters giving up their dreams of leaving the car at home; you hit me with, “I’m tired of hearing complaints….”

Me too! Especially complaints that aren’t even true! arrrggg!

Hartford certainly has plenty of bicycle infrastructure and idiot driver issues that need to be discussed and solved, but crossing the river is not one of them. I love my city. I love what's good, and seemingly unlike most people, I can also admit to what is bad. But lets not be saying that things are bad that aren't!

If you somehow only meant riding through the city was almost impossible to do safely, i must still strongly disagree with you. Send me an email and we'll meet up on bicycles and I'll show you a safe way to get where ever you need to go! And then, please, write about that!

ps. even with a 1/2 gallon of gin and juice, 3 of us were able to safely cross every bridge in Hartford at night!


Bridges and Mud and Mud

No more to READ MORE

EDIT NOTE. my original post was a bit meanspirited due to me being angry about recent events in Hartford and the response from the media, city officials and people in general. my apologies to all. Read more!


I think Surly makes great bikes. I have one. I cannot condone this, though. Read more!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

All lakes and streams are public

Emerson said something about land ownership being illusory.

Water ownership is false too.

On Tuesday afternoon I pedaled my Raleigh Grand Sport to an appointment for an MRI for my loose ankle in Farmington, two towns west of Hartford. I showed up sweaty, twitching, and promptly applied a handful of Gold Bond powder to my crotch before entering the waiting room, grabbing a clipboard of forms from a zombie at reception window, and disgracing a chair with my sweaty backside.

I had passed a small lake on the Tunxis Rd. and decided I would swim there on the way home from my appointment. I realized this lake was probably hemmed in on all sides by some sort of neighborhood "association" who thinks they own the lake, and there would be no good lakeside access for the public. I was right. A bicyclist could conceivably park on the side of the road, on the north side of the lake, and jump in right there, but it's not exactly scenic with the roadside weeds and rock fill. Besides, the wind on this day was blowing all water-borne detritus and organic matter to that shore. Instead, I ventured south down a side road, past a lot of nice houses and people watering their lawns, to the neighborhood "association" beach. There was a sign that said you may be charged with trespassing for using this beach without being a "member", but I figured nobody would care since there were just a handful of kids there and one older woman walking around the grounds. Having shed my shirt and shoes (I figured my skinny dip routine would have been pushing it), I was calf-deep when the woman asked me if I was a member. I said "nope" and she said "that's an honest answer." She warned be that someone would be checking these things in the near future.

I had a nice little swim and rode back home to the Beat, reflecting on my membership in the association of human beings who like swimming and bicycling.

Read more!

One week late! Last Thursday's beat bicycle doings.

The Farmers’ Market at Billings Forge on Broad Street netted me some tasty cheese and hummus. Here’s Jennifer Cassidy, assistant to Councilperson Boucher, stopping by on her bicycle, chatting with a friend and listening to some live jazz. Yes! Live jazz at an urban farmers’ market with people walking and biking in to shop for cheese, meats, eggs, crafts, milk, ice cream, pies, veggies and hot lunches ready to eat on one of the picnic tables. Mondays and Thursdays, 11am to 2pm!

This shopper was leaving soon after I arrived and I couldn't remember his name even though i asked him twice. my bad! But...Jake, as he commented below, is a BBB reader and now we know who he is! ha! actually now the whole internet knows; so if you see him pedaling by, please yell, "hey jake from the farmers market!" yep, that's what we're doing turning our city into a community!

The Hartford Advocate’s Bluesfest was Thursday night and I had to work a gate ID’ing people for wristbands and had a fun time. It was great to hear some blues ouside inthe Bushnell Park and see so many people on bicycles. Rich H and his eyeglass case, Bianca, TJ, Joel, Hanna, Maureen, that dude with the pedi-cab and dozens more as well.
This dude apologized for his plastic bag wallet when taking out his driver’s license. I laughed and pulled out my wallet, a snack sized zip-lock. It was a Kodak moment. And yes, a freakin’ snack sized zip-lock. Its waterproof, lightweight and you can buy like 50 for $1.69! Don’t get caught in the rain or over the side of your kayak without one!

Maureen sassin’ it up post Bluesfest post Mad Dawgs. You go with yer bad self!

Wanna hear about friday? Salmond Rushdie, free wine, hippie music, dancing with bike bells, strip clubs and lots of beer all in one hectic, organic, crazy night?


Friday's happy hour was awesome. I had a pair of tix to see Salmon Rushdie speak at the Wallace Stevens Theater at The Hartford. Krash and I rode over and were super stoked to arrive and find out our tickets also included a copy of his new book and a signing. And noshes and wine and wine too afterwards. We had a great time mingling and conversating.

Afterwards, we headed downtown to Sally’s for one beer; which became three beers and hangin’ outside with the band Shakedown between sets. Thanks again for the hospitality y'all! I danced around with my bicycle bell dingin’ to the beats. Its amazing how you can feel as though you cannot drink anymore since your tummy feels upset; but then a switch from beer to Guiness and its all good!

The bar at Sally's towards the end of the night!

and was the night over? hells no. but it gets foggy! We left for a night ride along the riverfront inwhich Krash convinced me to ride our bicycles to the Gold Club. Locking up our bikes infront of a titty club was almost as rediculious as hearing Krash argue with the doorman to let us in free since we rode there! ahhh, 2:30am antics to tell my grandchildren about someday.

Read more!

Urban Mountain Biking


Lucky for me, I was able to join two beatbikeblog expeditions exploring some East Hartford and East Windsor riverfront north of the railroad bridge two different days last week. We also passed under said bridge as you can see in the photo above. We found a sweet network of trails heavily used by ATV’s and motorbikes. Dang, we had fun speeding around the berms and turning and twisting into brand new territory.

Brendan and I encountered this third world track suitable for an old school Landrover. We were somewhere east of the river? Maybe East Windsor?

Sadness overtakes Joel as he looks at the plastic bleach bottle littering the riverside. Please don’t litter! It makes Joel, and the rest of us, sad.

But then happiness uplifts Joel when we travel down to the river to rub mud on us to relieve the burning itching from this evil plant we often encounter on the Hartford side. Its washes off easily with river mud and has no ill effects. Much unlike poison ivy. After a good scrubbin’, Joel decided to just jump in and go for a swim. He’s always doing that.

We eventually had to submit to biking on paved roads and headed north to the pedestrian access ramp for the Bissell Bridge to cross the Connecticut River into Windsor and then return south to Hartford. Very soon after crossing the city-line on rt. 159 we turned into Keney Park and went for a ride on the roads, the car-free paved trails and some single-track along the Leadership Trail. I love this park. So many pretty vistas, views of the skyline and picturesque open fields. The only problem so far are the speeding drivers on the narrow, twisty, tree lined roads. I guess another problem is this car that’s been rotting here for a few weeks. Look familiar? Call the HPD!

and that's all she wrote!
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So I'm a huge fan of Craigslist. It offers access to all sorts of goodies and services for purchase unhindered by the often inflated prices (at least with bikes) of online auction sites and untainted by corporate financing and unnecessary bells and whistles. Craigslist's simple and straightforward, almost cartoon-like, presentation provides hours of entertainment filled with humor, excitement, and intrigue. I find myself on this website almost every day on my lunch break scrolling through the bike postings looking for bikes I need, bikes I don't need, or bikes I suggest to friends so that they might go to a good home. While Craiglist is most often a peaceful, amiable place, several posts yesterday brought new emotions into our midst; deceit and betrayal, what fun!

I first came across this post:

JEEP Willy's Mountain bike - $170 (Thompson,CT)

Reply to: Date: 2008-06-10, 1:01PM EDT Jeep quality,18 sp. heavy duty susp. just like the one's listed on ebay for $1200-1500. equip. the same just a dif color. new cond. only $170.obo

WOW!!! A Jeep mountain bike. Jeep is the All-American transportation mode and they make bikes!! Im sold. And look at this, not only do Jeeps go for about 20-60k, supposedly their mountain bikes sell for a paltry $1200-$1500 on Ebay, and this one can be had for $170. what a deal. Skeptical, however, you may be and for good reason. Not because Jeep is not what it once was (now owned by the failing Chrysler and in the crossover business) but because of this post listed the next day.....

Do your online research BEFORE you buy a bike off craigslist

Reply to:
Date: 2008-06-11, 2:16PM EDT

Why pay more for a bike that is USED, when you can get it for the same price NEW?

OHHH!!! Burned. So much for the $1200-$1500 retail value. I'd hate to be the guy that would have to squelch the excitement of a friend who made this purchase thinking it was the deal of the century. I'd hate to be the OP on this one. Thats a little hubris for you.

Today's lesson, the Jeep bike on Craigslist is no more of a killer deal than that GMC Denali road bike you keep seeing popping up on Ebay.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Your random bike picture of the day

One-legged guy who's inexplicably proud of his Diet Coke? Check.

Old dude with two twelve-packs of Corona in a tricycle? Check.

We are ready to party. Read more!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Rell Signs Law Setting Caps on Emissions"

When I read the above titled article in the Courant I didn't think it really had anything to do with biking in Hartford but the more I thought about it, it really does.
For many of us, this is one of the major reasons we bike to work, school, the grocery store, the bar, etc. So what could be more important than legislature that will (hopefully) further encourage alternative (read: bike) transportation? Not much.

The article is quoted below or can be found here. Be sure to check out the comment section. If you are at all like myself it will baffle, amuse, frighten, and enrage you.

As a teaser here is my favorite comment:
"Finally!! Somebody is putting a cap on all those CO2 emissions coming from the State Capitol. Great idea. Oh, wait, this has nothing to do with gas bag politicians, just another attempt at causing an economic depression over the lies of anthropogenic global warming. Leftists love their pet phrases so they can all sound so hip; the newest one being "carbon footprint" . Yes, everybody is concerned about their "carbon footprint". Or so they say. What nonsense. Remember in the '80s when all the leftists were afraid Reagan was going to have the world nuked, the pet phrases of the era were "nuclear freeze" and "nuclear winter"? Well, Reagan put an end to the Soviet Union w/o a shot being fired. The leftists, sad that the evil U.S. won that round, had to pocket their "nuclear winter/ freeze" mantras for another era. But now that Iran is finally getting a nuclear weapon, it might be a good time to dust off the "nuclear winter/freeze" phrases. It's a lot closer to reality than man made global warming. That said, it's not to late for a special session to stem gas emissions from the state capitol and order that all elected officials drive hy-breds, instead of their gas guzzlers. Right Mr. Blumenthal?." - Alfred E Newman Esq. Wallingford, CT

Great eh? Well here is the article....

"As the U.S. Senate debated its global warming bill this week, Connecticut took a major step of its own toward addressing the issue.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Monday signed into law an act that sets mandatory caps on the emissions scientists say are warming the globe. To meet those goals, residents could see many changes in their daily lives over the next few decades, from the price they pay for electricity and the ways they commute to work, to the sources of energy they consume in vehicles and homes.

Exactly what those changes will be is up in the air: The law directs state agencies to produce an inventory of the state's emissions and take other measures to promote energy efficiency and set up incentive programs and regulations to encourage businesses and residents to do more to control greenhouse gas emissions.

The state already has a plan in place to address climate change. But the new law gives it some teeth by making the emissions cuts mandatory.

The law requires Connecticut to cut its output of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases 10 percent below 1990 levels over the next 12 years, and 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050. The caps are even more ambitious than what is being proposed in national legislation sponsored by independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia.

"By capping greenhouse gas emissions, we will reduce our carbon footprint, conserve energy and improve air quality in Connecticut while leading the way for the rest of the nation," Rell said in a statement.

Now seriously, don't click to read more, go click on this link and check out the comments! Read more!


It's been really hot lately. This is the thermometer on my thermostat this morning before I left for work at ten after eight. Every where I go, I show up wet with sweat. This has to stop!

Also, my new Redline Monocog came yesterday. It seems like a really cool bike, so I promptly messed up the H-spring on the disc brakes and now I can't ride it. I'll write more about it once I'm able to ride it. Read more!

Heroes PT. II

So it was a rather quiet weekend for the AP but that allowed them to take what they had read in our previous discussions about bike celebrities and heroes and go out and find one for us. In a story posted yesterday on CNN they followed Barack Obama on a bike ride along the shores of Lake Michigan where they took this flashy photo. As much as I love the guy I kind of wish he had a bike adviser on his staff that could have upped his cred a bit before this shot was allowed. I mean all i'm looking for is a rolled pant leg or perhaps a sweet Obama '08 messenger bag (maybe Manahatten Portage could jump on this one). I am, however, curious about the foam noodle fender that he's rocking as it looks less likely rip his sidewall, as I am suspicious of mine of having done, though at the height its sitting at I wonder about its performance.

Regarding the celebrity discussion, it seems here that at least the AP feels that biking has enough mainstream consciousness that the public would be interested with this photo. Reading the comment section of the article is far from bike related so maybe Obama is not the type of bike ambassador we are looking for at this point but one could argue that he made the top page of CNN on his bike and none of us can boast that.

I fear for his durability as a bike ambassador as one commenter keenly pointed out:


Personally I'd be more concerned about McCain rolling his walker out of the bushes and throwing his dentures ninja-style at this unsuspecting passerby. Just another reason to wear a helmet!

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My Swift Folder: First Impressions and First Commute

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy! The internet was broken at my work on Friday, so after repeated, fruitless consultation with tech support, everyone who was in the office left to work from home. That meant that by about noon, I was in my house, trying to work but knowing that my new bike was, according to UPS, "OUT FOR DELIVERY." This made it hard to concentrate. Sorry, work.

Luckily, the torture didn't last too long. At about 3:00, a 30-pound cardboard box arrived on my stoop with a resounding thud. Gadget blogs are really into "unboxing" photos, where they show you what the product looks like while still in its box, what it looks like while partially out of the box, what the packing material looks like, etc. It's a like a slow-motion strip tease, but with a thing. I'm not going to do that. The box looked like a box. Inside, it was dark, so the bike didn't look like anything till I took it out, and even then it was carefully wrapped in protective cardboard and packing material. The best thing is to see the bike fully assembled:

Initial assembly took about five minutes, and would have been quicker if I hadn't been holding a one-year-old while doing it. (Note to Xootr: It might be convenient to include some sort of childcare with each shipment.) All I had to do was put a QR skewer through the front wheel, put it on, bolt the handlebar to the stem (the brakes and shifter were already on the bar), and bolt the stem to the steering column riser thing. They even included a little allen wrench.

Click on "Read more" to get the full story.

The bike came with a straight bar with a little bit of rise, but I swapped that out for an old riser bar that I especially love (there it is in the photo above). There was nothing wrong with the straight bar, but getting the right hand position on a bike is key. (A nice thing about the angle of the stem that came with the Swift (for me, anyway) is that if I point it downward, I get a good, aggressive riding position, and if I point it upward, I have a more upright, riding-a-bike-while-wearing-a-suit-jacket position.)

The bike also came with Xootr's new Crossrack (shown above), which can be clamped to the seatpost or the steerer tube and can be set up in a number of ways. It's meant to get stuff strapped or clipped to it the way you'd put a pannier on the side of a rear rack, and, as the photo below demonstrates, it really works. Also, note the synergy: Manhattan Portage + Xootr = Bike Commute Kung Fu.

So how easily does the bike fold up? Very very easily. It really only takes about five seconds to have it ready for boarding a train, and only a few more to pop off the handlebars and steerer for trunk-ready compactness. Here is a picture of the bike folded up:

Reviews of the Swift, written mostly by British people, who prize foldiness above most other available bike characteristics, complain that the Swift doesn't fold as compact as other folding bikes. This may be so. For me, a more important question is, does it fold more compact than my other bike? One look at the photo below, which shows both the Swift and my Peugeot after being folded, tells you that the answer is a resounding "yes."

So how does the Swift perform under real-world conditions? I spent Monday finding out, by driving to New Haven, parking about a mile and a half from the train station, going to Union Station, taking Metro North to Bridgeport, and proceeding from the station there to various destinations around town. (Also, later in the evening, back in West Hartford, I switched the stem over to racy-downward-angle mode and took a fast six-mile round trip to the pharmacy on New Britain Ave. that's open late. I found that the Swift can really go fast, and feels no different than a full-sized frame (except when I hit bumps with the rear tire without bracing for them in any way - that was marginally more jarring than it would have been on 700 cm wheels, but still plenty tolerable).)

Below, photos of my first commute on the Swift:

Rise and shine! The first step in the day was to put the Swift in the ol' Corolla. Plenty o' room.

Hop on the highway.

I'm always looking out for cop cars . . .

. . . even the unmarked ones! (Do you think the cop driving this car appreciates how cool it is that his license plate is the name of a Wu-Tang member?

I get off 91 at exit 6, just before the New Haven traffic.

I park by Cross High School, unfold the bike, and before you know it I am heading down State Street with two miles to go to get to Union Station.

All folded up and ready for boarding.

Tucked away neatly by the door on the train.

I just have to make sure always to put the bike by a closed door. They don't always close the doors while the train is in motion.


Nearly an hour till my 9:15 meeting, so I may as well lock up, sit in a coffee shop, and do some work. (I wouldn't lock it so carelessly if I weren't able to keep an eye on it at all times through a large plate glass window.)

This is how I lock it if I have to let it out of my sight.

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow I am dropping off the youngsters in Middletown, so I may give the Swift its first long-distance test on the gruelling Middletown-to-New Haven stage. Stay tuned!

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