Sunday, August 31, 2008

Unclear on the concept

this is funny...but sad. encouraging or dissappointing? Read more!

Critical Mass. August 2008.



Yes! Yes! Yes!

This was a great ride on a beautiful night with lots of new people and another foray through our beloved Keney Park. Colleen brought her pops, Valdez brought his daughter, everyone brought a great vibe and we all had a great time. There was also a father and son from South Carolina. or was it North Carolina? Gimme a holla! Minimal car issues and more people stepping up to cork intersections when needed and talk to drivers kept things running super smoothly.

i was running super late in a mad dash to get my old school 3speed on the road for the ride. i met up with the group in East Hartford with only one speed, but one sweet looking bike!!! yeah baby yeah! The 3speed was one of a dozen or so free bicycles i picked up last week. Want one? check this post for what's left.

The ride crossed Founders' Bridge and wound its way to Main Street in East Hartford, where everyone pulled over to wait for Dawn, me, Karma and Brenden. It was fun arriving late having no certain idea what had been decided and where we were going. We headed North into South Windsor and across the bike/ped lane of the Bissell bridge. Rachel flatted out in the boat launch park and Rick and Krash got her fixed up as others rode in circles to escape the bugs. Dang skeeters! Others chatted, new friends were made and there was interesting relay riding with tastey, frothy batons!

Then it was off to Keney Park as the sun set. We passed several parking lots full of life; car stereos bumping music, BBQ's and North End peoples enjoying a great Friday afternoon in the park drinking brews. Everyone was super cool, waving, shouting and we all shared some great energy. Ahhhh. Sometimes things in Hartford just flow wonderfully.

We exited the park in the dark at Tower Avenue and rode straight down Barbour Street to Capen St. and then east to North Main Street. Barbour was a pretty crazy, sketchy, wonderous, great, paradoxial ride to say the least. We passed the scene of a recent shooting, though i don't think many knew it. Most groups of people and all small kids waved and yelled with genuine smiles. A few yells of, "Duuuude and Awesome" in faked "white" accents were kinda funny. The large black dude that came into the street and was pretending to grab cyclists as they rode by while yelling, "gimme that bike!" seemed more of a joke gone too far than any kind of threat, but some people certainly didn't enjoy that. There were certainly a few other negative and ignorant comments here and there, but by and large it was all good. No, F that. By and large it was all great!

We took a lane down Main and returned to the club area where many of us went to Mad Dawgs for pizza, 40's, beer and pole dancing. yep, that's a winning combination right there.

Rich was really making it happen!

Corey showing us how its done safely with a helmet and eye protection!

40's are fun! They really make me a better (pole) dancer!

Afterwards we decided to buy copious amounts of beer, pizza, burgers and have a postride firepit bbq party in my backyard. Wow! What a great way to end the night. By the way, the party planning and flat fixing was great to be a part of. I saw lots of people stepping up, wanting to help and really making it happen, especially at the party. Beer was bought at several locations. Krash and Wizzy brought two pizzas. Boz was persistant as not one, but two grills failed him, and he had to finish cooking in a frying pan in my apartment! Everyone really worked together and looked out for one another. I really like that.

Thank you and big ups to everyone in the ride and along the ride, it was a great time!

many more photos if you click Read More below!

North Main Street.

This was fun to carry in my messenger bag and on my handlebars from the local bodega.

i wish i had a better photo of the bicycle parking in my garage for the party. T'was a beautiful sight to behold!

Rich has mad stupid skills; he can even hoolahoop!

But it was Dawn's and she's a hoolahoop master and had the thing going up, down and all around.

hmmm. looks like lucas is handing me a beer. jeff, stop staring at Dawn's butt! Rich, stop bragging about yer skills!

Dang! Rich! You dance too! I also remember dancing with Bianca, but i also remember spinning myself into a fence as i fell into the flowers.

Read more!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hartford critical mass,

In Hartford, critical mass is about bicycling and bicyclists. We had over forty people for August's ride, and it was a diverse group. There were no cops involved, no major party conventions, and very little automobile-bicycle conflict. Let's count our blessings and enjoy it.

The North End of Hartford is a pocket of poverty in the richest state of the richest world in the nation. Our Hartford critical mass ride through this neighborhood was greeted with enthusiasm, most of which felt genuine.

I can't think of an easier way of reaching out from one neighborhood o another than to travel through at sunset on a Friday night on bicycles and shout hello.

Although I have respect and gratitude for critical mass leadership in San Francisco, NYC, and Denver, I am grateful to ride in a critical mass that is not yet in a battle over civil liberties, not yet in a battle over the use of public thoroughfares, but is simply a large group of unrelated people celebrating bicycles. Read more!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Your Bicycle Picture of the Day.


Found this on one of my new favorite websites, Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Its how I dream Hartford will look someday, designated bike-only lanes, bike-only parking with full racks, and coffee shops with outside seating and without purple and orange logos. The fact that its raining and these bikers are out and about makes it even better. Pinch me.
Read more!

Free Bikes!


all have been taken, but a parts bike!

thank you to everyone for saving a bicycle from the junkyard!



only three left...see below.

there are another three claimed and waiting to be picked up, if they are there at the end of the week, they are whoever wants them!

Some dude in glastonbury/colchester; i dunno, its off route 2 exit 10; is giving away dozens of bicycles. There are all fix-me-ups, mostly old road bikes and even older 3 speeds. There are certainly a lot of diamonds in the rough. He's threatened a few times about all the bikes going to the scrap yard as they gotta go. SAVE A BIKE! its like a freakin' bike porno shop there, so much to stare at and fantasize about!

i picked up a 1/2 dozen a few days ago. 3 are left. see below. i didn't measure frames, but all seem to fit me ok and i am 5'7" or 5'8" as my license says! want one? holla! wanna just check it out? holla! my landlord will also be throwing an old bike into the mix that she does not want.

sweet 3 speed with grip shifter! . needs handlebars and TLC. check the fenders and chain guard!

also, one wheel is now gone, both tires are rotted!

this is a tall person frame. josh? anyone 6foot or above? come check this one. needs a wheel set.

i'm a dirty bike, take me home and show me some love!

i am not sure what the craig's list ad said, but if someone can comment the link, i'll add it to the post! Read more!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

summer's waning days

Photo credit goes to Bill and Kent. I don't know who they are, but I know where this is.

It appears that summer is coming to a close. I went for a ride at Penwood last night, back and forth from the chimney, and on the return climb from that road whose name I forget, it was already getting dark. I returned to the car to discover it was only 7:15. Labor Day weekend is almost upon us. Anyone got any cool plans? I'm going to Vermont (again). Read more!

Car Doors and Striping

As I pedaled down a striped bike lane in Hartford recently, I was recalling some recent comments basically saying, for one reason or another, that striping isn't all that effective at making streets safer and friendlier for bicycles.

I was naturally moving out of the bike lane and into the auto lane if there was no traffic behind me, because the bike lane seemed to be exactly as wide as the length of a driver's side door.

Perhaps an overlooked benefit of striping bike lanes onto roads is that drivers who just parked will think twice before throwing their door open. It may remind them that there is traffic right up to edge of their vehicle. Read more!

scraper bike!

cruisin' on my scaperbike! Read more!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thumbs Up!


So Borat and I have decided to award a thumbs up in the event that the general public does something that positively impacts a member of the bicycling community or bicyclists at large. As is noted here the first was awarded in response to a gesture of goodwill and encouragement received a couple weeks ago as I hauled recyclables on the back of my bike. The most recent event took place this last Sunday. Riding again on Ridgewood Rd. I got a flat as I turned off of Tunxis and rode through the light. The standard initial denial raced through my brain as I felt the reduced resistance in my rear tire but after a couple more pedal strokes I looked down to see my sad deflated rear tire.

I hopped off the bike cursing the worst pos tires I have ever owned (Panaracer Paselas, 5 flats in less than 6 mos.). I evaluated my situation and tried to decide whether I wanted to change the flat on the spot or just walk the last mile and fix it having the convenience of a full-size rather than a mini pump. Possessing only one spare tube and envisioning either fixing the flat then pinching the tube while putting the last inches of the tire bead back on the rim, or failing to remove the invader which caused the problem in the first place and popping the new tube, or most likely, just out of sheer laziness I decided to walk. This entailed throwing the bike over my shoulder as to not further compromise my already crappy tires (no comfortable feat keeping in mid that my commuter bike is not a flyweight fixie or my Panasonic single-speed, but rather a 40 lb steel behemoth fully equipped with gears, rack, and fenders). After 10 minutes or so my shoulder began to hurt and I realized that the straight shot down Ridgewood that takes no more than 5 minutes to zip down on the bicycle would be a long and uncomfortable walk under it.

At this point a roadie zipped past and asked if I was ok and if I needed a phone or anything. "No, I'm fine. Thanks though," I replied as I already had a phone and was just being indignant towards changing my mind and fixing the flat. "Its Pete right? See you around," see said. Im not sure who Pete is or how she got us confused but I was glad to see a fellow bicyclist looking out for my well being regardless of if she mistook me for someone else.

I continued walking and not 2 minutes later an SUV pulled up and again asked if I was ok and if I needed a ride. "No, I'm fine. Thanks though," I again replied and kept on walking. As my shoulder began to throb I pulled out my bag of work clothes and put it on my shoulder so I could rest the frame on it relieving much of the pressure as I walked. This helped for about 3 minutes before I began to again question my choice. At this point another car pulled up and asked if I was ok and if I needed a ride. "No, I'm fine. Thanks though," I said though this time more hesitant. The car sped off and I started to wonder if it was really worth it. I then passed a couple walking their golden retrievers on the opposite side of the road and they asked if I was ok. "Yes fine. Thanks," I said. "We only live a couple houses down and have a truck and can bring you wherever you need." I thought hmmm, this was a good option as I could just hop in the back thus reducing my chances of being abducted into some iron mining ring taking place under West Hartford. "No, I'm fine. Thanks though," I of course replied. I kept walking realizing how stupid I was being and how annoying it is to walk while carrying something meant to carry you and which does it much more efficiently than vice versa. Enough was enough and I put down the bike in order to change the tire. Just as I pulled out the wrench to unbolt the rear tire a couple in a mini van pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride. "No, I'm fine. Thanks though," I replied. "You sure?" I paused for a moment and asked myself if what I was doing was really logical. "You know what, if you don't mind, I'd really appreciate a ride." They hopped out and popped open the rear gate and I rolled my bike in the back on hopped in. Turns out they had passed me a bit before and turned around and came back to see if I was ok. They had just come from the coffee shop in the plaza where I work yet had no problem shuttling back over there to drop me off.

After they pulled away from the parking lot I thought about what had just happened, not so much my stupidity for not changing the tire and getting on my way in the first place or refusing so much help initially, but rather the persistent goodwill of so many people in such a short span of time. For this reason the residents and motorists along Ridgewood Rd. on Sunday August 24, between 9.30 and 10.00am get a big THUMBS UP from Borat and I, Very Nice! Read more!

Monday, August 25, 2008

ride daily, celebrate monthly...or all the time!!!

Start friday morning with a ride to The Old State House for Bike to Work and enjoy a free breakfast of coffee, juice, bagels, bananas and other tastey morning goodness from 7am to 9am. Mingle with other commuters, check out bikes and loiter around as long as you can get away with! tell yer boss yer late cuz of a flat! mmm....bananas!

Need a fun ride after work? its Critical Mass! Meet at the Bushnell Park Carousel 5:30pm. This informal ride leave a little after 6pm and wanders around for about an hour and a half. Where? There's talk of going to East Hartford. Or the farm-made icecream spot in Bloomfield on Cottage Grove Road. Bring yer ideas, bells, whistles, energy and have a great time. Always an afterparty somewhere!

Come earlier to try out some bike polo, sez Dave M, "“Pre-Mass Mallet Bash” - jumpstart your c-mass ride while wielding a mallet and netting some fun trying up bike polo. 5:00pm in the field near the Carousel."
wow, that's alot of "quotation" marks!

next month has some really big events mid month, again both on the same day!
The CCBA's Discover Hartford Bike and Walking Tour is Saturday, September 12. Last year about 1200 people had a great time on the tour, don't miss it this year! Sign up and more info on the website!

but save yer legs, cuz that same night is Hartford Hardcore 4! The 4th year of one of the best alleycats in the city. We were easy on y'all with last month's Wear Yer Rubber's race, Sean and company will not be so nice! good luck suckas! ride fast, ride safe. Read more!

China and their fantabulous rolling contrapulators

Like Brendan, I also was not at the Olympics. Yay,

China will surely destroy us all with their army of sleek, invading light wheels. And they're wearing some sort of armor on their heads! We're doooooomed!

Anyone see the Olympic closing ceremonies? These neato lighted monowheels made an appearance. They were making some really sharp and tight turns in them. Talk all you want about human rights violations (please!) and whatever other issues the Chinese gov't brings forth, but they did not seem to spare any expense for making the show really impressive for the tv.

A case of beer to anyone who can get anything close to this on the streets of the Beat. Maybe we can keep checking ebay-China or Craigslist-Beijing for some of these from the ceremony.
. Read more!

Wingnuts in Victorian Houses

Maybe bikes like this should be kept off the roads.

I can't take credit for finding this, I found it on the very well-designed K-Wall Blog, but I thought others should read it. Or, if you don't want to read the article, this is a brief summary:

This man in San Francisco named Rob Anderson hates bicycles. He's a bitter and unemployed political muckraker of little popularity. None the less, he was able to halt San Francisco's plan to expand their bicycle infrastructure by suing them because the Board of Supervisors voted to skip the environmental impact review. Conventional wisdom is that increased bicycle infrastructure will encourage more people to ride their bikes and therefore reduce the number of cars on the road. The few cars, the few pollutants in the air. Mr. Anderson believes that cars will never leave the road and that developing more bicycle infrastructure will cause more traffic jams. More traffic jams, he says, means more idling cars wasting gas and expelling pollutants into the air. He prevailed in California's Courts and San Francisco is being forced to do the environmental impact review, and they are doing it very slowly.

Now I'm all in favor of environmental impact reviews for most things, but from what I understand, SF's plan was to roll out more bike lanes, a traffic matter. From my little bit of experience with municipal government, we don't need to do this type of impact study if we change traffic patterns. Further, the logic makes no sense. If you clarify who is where on the road, traffic will flow better and more safely for everyone.

However, the big thing is "Why is the WSJ legitimizing this guy?" I mean, there are some pretty obvious reasons, but it really vexes me that they're handing out new talking points for people to oppose/hate bikes. Read more!

Friday, August 22, 2008

End of an era

What's the headlamp for?

I read an article last week about Igor Kenk. He was a weird dude who lived in Tornto, ran a dilapidated bike shop, and everyone thought he stole bikes. I believe that first story was about how he got arrested for the theft. There's a new article today. According to that one, the police have recovered 2,865 stolen bikes. That's crazy! The article asks, and so do I, what was he planning on doing with that many bikes. He was obviously acquiring them way faster than he could sell them. Did he really, really hate bikes? He ran a bike shop, but that could have just been a cover. Was he trying to defend his neighborhood from the influx of hipsters? Brooklyn has lots of bike theft and it doesn't seem to be stopping anything. It's totally baffling.

Also of note, he claims to be an ex-KGB agent. Maybe the Soviets were planning to cripple North American infrastructure by taking away all the bikes. Read more!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stolen Marin Portofino

A while back, El Presidente de China had his folding bike stolen from his car in Waterbury. Despite the worldwide popularity of the Beat Bike Blog and our readership (we get almost ten percent of the hits youtube does, I swear), El Prez's bike was not recovered.

Nevertheless, I wanted to put out an APB for my coworker's nearly brand new 2007 Marin Portofino, which was brazenly gaffed from her barn in Coventry last night. It is a 58 cm frame and has clipless pedals and solar powered computer.

Let us know if you see it. Read more!

BMX in the Olympics

I stole this picture from I wasn't at the Olympisc to take it.

So, the New York Times wrote a bunch about BMX in the Olympics this year. I haven't read much anywhere else about it. The cycling world hasn't made a big deal about it. I think it's fitting, since road, track, and mountain biking are in it. The only thing that mystifies me is that it made its entry like 15 or so years after the sport's major popularity. The only people I see riding BMX with talent now are doing cool tricks, instead of riding around a track fast. What do you think? Read more!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exit Music (For A Bike)

My trip to the Radiohead concert was a smashing success. The music was great, the light show dazzling, and my seat was ridiculous. There are plenty of reviews, photos, and videos about the show itself that would put my efforts to shame, but I'm here to talk about the transportation.

As I wrote earlier, I was trying to find the easiest, least gas-guzzly and trafficy way to get to and fro' the show. Originally, I was planning on driving my bike to Providence and catching the Boston commuter train north to Mansfield, which would put me about 4-5 miles from the venue. I changed up a bit when I realized that I would have to be in Providence around rush hour and the last trains out of Mansfield are at 11:07 and 12:39. One too early, and risking missing the last one. (The last train north to Boston leaves at 10:17...a horrible time for concert-goers.) Finally, Mansfield is right near the intersection of I-95 and I-495, the drive time direct to Mansfield is about the same as it is to Providence. Plus the train station parking lot is 2 exits away from the mess that was to be the exit to the concert venue. I parked in the train lot, asked where the nearest food place was and grabbed a bite before biking in.

The ride was really easy. After getting out of the little town of Mansfield, I did notice a fair number of people obviously walking to the concert. Good for them. The only tight spot was the bridge over the interstate which was under construction. They squeezed 2 lanes into one, so I lost my shoulder there. Luckily, the car behind me that just got off the highway didn't mind rolling back and let me get ahead. So I breezed past the line of cars that was jammed not only at the main parking entrance, but also for the $40 private lots that were open right next to the on-ramps. I was looking for a pedestrian way in, when I noticed the flag-waivers were directing me to follow the auto traffic...I wasn't expecting that. Got to the front of the huge lot to find no bike racks (no surprise), but about 10-12 other bikes were already cable-locked to a cluster of trees right near the ticket windows. Nice to know there are a few others out of 20,000 people.

I was really hoping that the security wouldn't put up a stink if they found my blinkies on me during the usual entrance-frisk. Knowing my luck, they wouldn't know what they were. No problems, however.

Post-concert was a snap. I was out of the venue at about 10:55, and just had to walk my ride through one big crowd of people before finding a nice lane out to the road. I was at my car by 11:10. And it's such a peaceful ride after the highway onramps. A perfect silent breeze to reflect on the awesome music I heard the previous 2 hours. Here's the mind blowing thing: I read blogs that said that it took them until 1:15 before their car even moved while still in the lot. I was nearly back in Hartford by then with a stop for food. And I haven't mentioned that some reports were that I-495 turned into a parking lot going *in* to the venue as well.

And that's the moral. Biking to concerts totally rules. I did it once this summer to Dodge/Meadows, and my trip to Great Woods/Comcast cemented it. The in/out traffic designs of these parking facilities at music venues are simply horrible. Past trips to Oakdale/Chevrolet taught me to either run to the car or take a nap in the I'm thinking of looking at bike routes to Wallingford. While it'd be nice if these venues provided adequate bike parking facilities, you can always make do.

Rock and Ride! Read more!

Bicycle Rage?


In the midst of all of our discussions about conflict between bicyclists and motorists I caught wind of this story from the West coast. Looks like a L.A. doctor has been translating his frustrations with bicyclists into action and is taking the laws of the road into his own hands. As one would suspect his lashing out has come at the expense of bicyclists' safety, most recently and notably the two who suffered series injuries seen in this recent run-in with Christopher Thompson.

One might be consoled by the words of the doctor's lawyer who stated, "We regret the incident," however, all compassion is rescinded in the following statement, "we regret that charges have been filed." Well thats no surprise, nor is the fact that related charges have previously been filed against Thompson as the piece reports. All I can say is that thus far we are lucky that our conflicts have remained within the insulated walls of the Topix discussion boards.

A more complete description of the incident can be found here.
Read more!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What not to bring on your next weeklong Cape vacation

Pneumonia. Seriously. In addition to spending the first seven of my eleven days off feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, I haven't ridden my bike in forever, and now that I'm feeling almost back to normal, it's time to go back to work!

(This post could also be entitled "Worst-Ever Souvenir of a Trip to Savannah, Georgia.") Read more!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cyclists must realize that the road belongs to the driver and they are merely borrowing it..... A Retort

Another letter in today's Courant offers a retort to yesterday's letter to the editor which minimized cyclists' rights to the roads in favor of the free rein of motorists. The comment section of the original publication sparked some good conversation (minimally ignorant and threatening) and I can guarantee this retort will do the same.

Let us know you think the argument yesterday shaped up. Fair and even or pure lunacy?

Warning: Gun-toting conservatives at play. Read more!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Central Wheel Rides Again!

Its safe to say this bike shop has had a pretty shitty (and deserved) reputation for a long time. A friend recently suggested I stop in as there was a new owner, new staff and a whole new attitude there. I was hopeful, as it is the closest bike shop to Hartford. I’m not shitting on REI here; they sell and repair bikes, and are actually super helpful and nice; but a bike shop they are not.

My first visit in years was for a reverse threaded lockring for a fixie I was building. As they were searching for the part, I added if given a choice, I wanted a black one. The dude looked up and said there were only silver. Then I heard some discussion about, “Can we sell that to him?” and the next thing I knew there was a black lockring on the counter. They were selling me a co-worker’s special order that hadn’t been picked up yet. I asked if they were sure about this and they good-heartedly joked, “He only works here once a week!” Wow. I assume they knew he wasn’t in a hurry, or at least hope not!

The guys at the shop also answered a bunch of kind of basic questions I had about building my first bike. Super personable and super helpful. They even let me leave some beatbikeblog stickers and critical mass fliers for customers!

I just wanted to give these guys a well deserved big up and wish them lots of luck.

Thanks fellas! Read more!

Cyclists must realize that that the road belongs to the driver and they are merely borrowing it.

Do you disagree with that statement? Want to read more? Got something to say about it? Check this letter to the editor from Michael Klucznik in Wethersfield.
Be sure to check the comments as well and give your opinion.

also, duude, Karma, our gun-toting, think slow, write quick, threaten to shoot people buddy, Haddam's village idiot, posted and is quite civil. hmmm...i wonder what happened!?!? Read more!

A big thumbs up.


On the blog we often discuss the issues cyclists have with motorists. Over the last week the discussions have gotten even more frequent as we mulled over articles in the Economist and the Courant, and watched the lovely video of a rabid pregnant woman in New Haven. As we all know confrontations between persons on bikes and people in cars can be confrontational, emotional, and at times dangerous. This fact sits in the back of my mind every time I ride my bike, whether it is the daily commute to work, the library, the grocery store, or a long scenic tour of the Connecticut hills, and as it was when I left work yesterday. However, yesterday was a little different in that I was taking home the recyclables for which our plaza lacks appropriate disposal methods. So there I was with a bag three feet in diameter full of bottles and cans strapped onto the rack of my bike riding through West Hartford, a scene that reliably adds to the number of strange looks, horn honkings, and clever comments from teenagers such as "nice bike" or "get a car" that I get along my ride.

So needless to say I expected much of the same as I rode down Ridgewood Rd, cars zipping by me annoyed that they had to slow down to pass someone obviously so destitute that they not only cannot afford a sensible mode of transport but they have stooped to collecting bottles and cans. Coming up to a red light I zipped past most of the cars that had just passed me and rolled towards the intersection when one of the car windows rolled open and a guy of peak rude commenting age starts to stick his head out the window. I think to myself, "here it comes, lets see what this guys got." To my surprise he looks at me, pumps his fist in support, and says entirely sincerely, "right on man." Completely shocked and speechless all I could muster was a "heyyoooo" in response and I flew past as the light concurrently turned green. After settling back into the saddle I thought about what had just happened. I had expected the impending confrontation to leave me angry and frustrated but rather it had been quite the opposite. I sat up tall with a big smile on my face and road along proud to be on my bike carting a large bag of refuse.

The moral is, while the majority of our confrontations with motorist may be negative we need to take the time to appreciate those fleeting moments when bikes and cars do get along. So to the guy heading North on Ridgewood Road at 5.30 yesterday afternoon in (what I think was) a light blue Passat, kudos to you! Borat gives you two very big thumbs up! Very Nice!
Read more!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Riding (or not) in the rain.

For the bike commuter the prospect of rain has very different implications than for those who choose to drive to work every day. The automobile traveler need only grab and umbrella or raincoat and go about their day largely per usual. For the bicyclist, however, the sight or forecast of rain forces them into what I perceive as three camps. The first immediately leaves the bike in the basement or garage and gets out their car keys. The second group initiates the stressful decision-making process in which weather radar maps are consulted, times analyzed, and the roll of the dice to beat the weather is gambled in order to not to have to drive. This is especially true if there is the chance that they might drive and then it doesn't rain and they (like myself) are resultantly wracked with guilt all afternoon. The third group takes to the bike in the mantra of the postal service; rain, sleet, snow, hail, mudslide, etc. I recently came to the realization that I was sick of the stress of the second grouping and thought that my life would be much less stressful if I moved into the third. I rationalized that if I didn't think about the weather, never questioned whether I would ride or note, and prepared myself and my bike for any type of weather, riding in the rain would be much more enjoyable and I would have far less automobile-related guilt.

After I started to do a little research into rain commuting I discovered a consensus among all-weather commuters that riding in the rain is not only perfectly safe (provided you brake a little early and don't take corners a breakneck speed), but it is also mentally refreshing, guilt reducing, and almost zen-like given the sounds and sensations experienced. I was sold. Reading further I found that those who were the happiest were those who had appropriately outfitted themselves to riding in the rain, waterproof bags, fenders, rain pants and jackets, etc all made for a more enjoyable and drier ride. Being a bike commuter I already had a waterproof messenger bag, and as I am employed in the outdoor sports business I also had a plethora of waterproof/breathable jackets and pants at my disposal. These I modified for bike use, namely removing any hoods that would catch the wind (and the rain), and cut pant legs to keep them out of chains and chainrings and to facilitate better ventilation. The result is waterproof protection that I can wear over or in lieu of work or regular clothes.

The set up on a warmer ride home from work. Ditching the jacket to stay cooler and opting for Chacos rather than shoes which are a lot let messy when soaked. While I usually wear my helmet in the rain a cycling cap does a good job of keeping rain out of my eyes.

Next I set out to prepare my bike. Another consensus found through my research was that fenders, albeit at times the butt of jokes, make a huge difference in keeping the bike and the rider dry and clean in wet conditions. I even found a set that while indestructible plastic have the look of polished chrome which goes well with my all-weather commuter, a sweet '78 Univega Supra Sport. After thinking a bit more I realized that as I already fill my messenger bag to the brim on most days if I was to take along an extra set of clothes to change into (not wanting to ride in both rain gear and regular clothes if it was, say 85 degrees) I should look into panniers that I could throw on my rack to lessen the load on my back. Numerous options availed themselves and I found a waterproof set that struck my fancy.
The Univega

The Univega

A couple shots of the Vega displaying her rain rig (and before she got new brake levers, rerouted cables, and nice bright yellow bar tape). The panniers are totally H2O-proof and carry a ton of stuff and the fenders do an amazing job of keeping you super dry as most of the soaking you'll get while riding is that coming of the tires, not from the rain itself.

The change is dramatic!! While I don't mind cruising through a warm rain with the spray off the tires cooling me down and the water soaking through my shirt, this isn't the best way to arrive at work, nor is it always the most comfortable experience for a longer ride. The new set-up is an amazing improvement. Even in heavy rain the difference is substantial and it takes far less time to get mud and road grime off the bike after a rain ride.

Most importantly, I no longer question whether I'm going to ride or not, and not having to face the guilt of driving on a day that dries out is priceless. Read more!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Crazed Driver Yells at Cyclist...who was a reporter with videocamera

Check this story with video from Paul Bass at the New Haven Independent.

A crazy-ass driver starts yelling at him telling him to, "Get on the fucking sidewalk!!" She continues yelling, angry about being filmed and demands, "Don't camera me, that's fucking rude!" The video begins with her telling him she's pregnant. I feel sorry for that kid!

There have been several incidents with cars and bicycles in New Haven lately and many people are very angry. Give his great story a read and check the links.

Two mornings ago I had a driver behind me beeping and yelling up a storm because i was in the left lane taking a left. The sad/funny thing about it is not only was i going the same speed as the morning rushhour traffic, but the light we were approaching was red! She must have a lot of stress and hate in her life to act that way. Sucka! I had a great commute into work that morning regardless of her tantrum. Read more!

Check yer Head!! Missing yer Helmet??


Rich has been in possession of this headpiece for atleast a few weeks, bringing it to various rides, bars, bat mitzvahs, weddings and ice cream shops searching for the owner.

give us an email or comment if its yours! Read more!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Economist Talks Bicycles and Cars

There is local and national evidence of more bicyclists and bicycling lately.

Anecdotally, the three bicycle racks where I work have been full most days this summer, and the greasy old perennial bicycle commuters at the DEP seem impressed with the number of commuting riders this year. I bet there are plenty of other workplaces where the old dogs have noticed an increase in commuters.

We also have circumstantial citywide evidence of more bicycling lately. The inaugural Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour was a smashing success last fall, and there has been a push to get more bicycle racks on city buses.

Word of similar events and trends are wafting out of other cities across the country, but it's good every once in a while to get corroboration from a mainstream source like The Economist. Not surprisingly, this is a concise high-level summary of the current surge in bicycling as transportation in the US. The crux of the article is a few anecdotes about motorist-bicyclist altercations and a relay of statements from bicycling advocates saying "cycling deaths are sharply up" to assert that automobile vs. bicycle conflicts are a problem. Their solution? Better manners from drivers and cyclists.

Is the recent increase in incidents of bad manners and cycling deaths proportional to the recent increase in bicycling, or are motorists and bicyclists getting angrier?

As I've said before, bicyclists must accept the responsibility that comes with power reclamation on the roads. At the same time, I wonder how big this problem actually is, and is it really a problem of manners? I think The Economist falls short of their usual level of insight by offering a solution of minding manners. Better manners could improve a lot of problems, not just bicycle-automobile conflict. This is a political and economic problem with political and economic solutions, no different from other topics tackled by one of my favorite publications. Read more!

Cap'n Richie's Fun Page!

Here is the beginning of my post.


Hey Kids! Do you like puzzles?? I do! Here's a teaser for today. Rich has a ticket to go see Radiohead next Wednesday in Massachussetts and he's excited to go because nothing makes good music better than a dash of social responsibility. As you may or may not know, Radiohead has made it a point to make their touring habits green, and they're pretty keen on passing on that message to their fans. They made it a point to do things like send a recording to Conan O'Brian rather than use up resources traveling to NYC. They play in music-dense festivals so fans aren't driving all over the place all willy-nilly searching for good music. They have their truckers plug into the grid for power at night rather than idling engines. And they want fans to use public transportation to their concerts. Apparently the show at Tweeter/Comcast/corporate sponsor Center in Mansfield, MA...if google results are to be believed , is quite contrary to that last bit. The closest thing is the commuter rail that runs between Boston and Providence, but that's several miles away. Hey Kids...can you name a mode of transportation that can easily bridge that gap?

I found out this summer after a DMB show yet another rush that bikes can give...blowing past not only all the traffic waiting F O R E V E R to exit the lot, but also the slow, drunken Bataan-like death march of people walking back downtown from the Meado...I mean Dodge Music Center. If the traffic patterns for the venue at Mansfield are as bad as I hear they are, what a perfect opportunity to juke back to the commuter rail station in Mansfield and hop aboard to get me outta there.

Now here's where the fine readers of the BBB come in. What's the best way for me to see this concert? Here are the facts we know: 1) I'm taking the whole friggin' day off. 2) The lot opens weirdly early like 2:30 pm. 3) MTA allows bikes on their commuter line except for the rush periods. 4) We already know Amtrak can go fuck themselves with their expensive tickets and their no bike policy.

Right now, I'm thinking my best course of action is to drive all the way to Providence and park at the rail station, load up my bike, and there are later trains running south after the show. If anyone can come up with a better solution that doesn't end in me dying or getting fired, I would love to hear it. Read more!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Carribean Nights, Mighty Sparrows and Beach (Goldfish) Parties


El Prez and I pedaled downtown Saturday night to the Carribean Festival to eat dinner and check out some music. We unexpectedly passed Krash as he was leaving an ATM with a lovely purse. Priceless! Krash and Wizzzzy had biked down for Coldplay and were about to cross the street and enter the Civic Center for the concert. El Prez and I continued on to Constitution Plaza and locked up our bikes behind the food vendors and seeked out food, delicious West Indian food.

The roti, chicken and pumpkin curry was good, but the Mighty Sparrow was great! Dang! This dude was getting down in his matching purple shorts and shirt and what looked to be black dress socks and shoes! He had been paying much attention to a pair of ladies sitting infront when one of them jumped up and whined on him something wonderful. woo-haa! Lady had some skills!

T’was a great night for music under the stars and mad people came out to enjoy the evening. We met up with Bianca and her friend and decided to check out Sue’s Soire over at Hartford 21. It was a beach themed party. I was wearing a guaberra and el prez had a bottle of rum and a recycled beach ball. We were all prepeared…or so we thought!

El Pres del Lincoln! The party was pretty bangin'.These people were partying! Live band, yummy food and a swimsuit dance that left many in bathing suits dancing and prancing about the room. Krash, Wizzzzy and two friends came by after the concert and joined in the dancing, pool and pinball machines.

Before the jump and in reckless abandonment of keeping tings chronological, I gave Bianca a ride to her car in the North End on my bike post party. I can still hear her saying, "Don't kill me!" as we turned onto Main Street balancing as best we could.

And that’s most of the story…but then there’s the goldfish!

Rum, goldfish and cameras! a winning combination, especially when catching fish in your mouth becomes the most important challenge in life! I outlined the flying goldfish with bluefish because some are hard to see. Some were caught, some got away!

Too low of a throw for wizzzzyy!

I'm gonna say i ate that little fishy!

Good job Krash!

Bianca's got it!

Read more!

A ride gone... better.

Considering that the Scruffy Peloton has effectively been on hiatus for the past several weeks I took my day off Monday as the opportunity for a long solo ride in which I would re-attempt the route into Barkhamsted that several weeks ago went so horribly awry. While the ride went much more according to plan I could, of course, count on Google to throw me several curves to keep me on my directional toeclips. Along the way I saw one of my all-time favorite volleyball courts...
and got to ride some of the meanest hills Ive found in CT thusfar.

Check it out, Click "READ MORE" for the pretty pictures...

So I headed over Simsbury Mountain following the same route I mentioned in my previous post, turned North onto Route 10, and West onto Stratton Brook Rd. Moving much faster and more confidently than before I quickly came upon the intersection that had thrown my last attempt into its spiraling decline.

It was at this intersection, technically the junction of Stratton Brook and Route 309, but known to Simsbarians as the joining of Stratton Brook, Westledge Rd, Old Farms Road, and Farms Village Road, not confusing for an out-of-towner, that so much went wrong last time. Better prepared with BOTH route and road names I nonchalantly turned onto Westledge and made my way past meadows, farms, and farm stands. I caught this sign out of the corner of my eye and my adoration of hops obliged me to snap a picture.

There were, to my dismay, no hops in said brook.
There was, however, clean cold water which was quite refreshing on this, a very hot day. This willow and its shade also seemed to be calling out for a hammock and a good book.

The picturesque scenery continued as I rode down Westledge, which subsequently turned into North Canton Rd. and then West Simsbury Rd. At the end of the latter, however I passed a sign which made me laugh and shake my head...
Apparently once you leave Simsbury and get into Canton the use of route signage once again becomes acceptable.

I turned North onto 179, passed this gorgeous horse farm...
... and headed up a mean hill, 2.0 miles long with a max grade of 9.0%. As me and my burning legs crested the hill I came across some road art that perfectly mirrored my sentiment.

Cresting the hill I enjoyed the fruits of my efforts and cruised down the backside of the hill and turned onto 219 (where I again came across a sign that would have been helpful on my first attempt).

This section of the ride turned out to be the most scenic and for a moment of two I thought I had ridden all the way up to NH or VT. If anyone is feeling up for it take a ride out this way and check it out, you wont regret it as you can see.



Riding further I even came across a very nice iron bridge!

Thusfar my ride had gone largely without a hitch, however this was where I turned onto the Farmington River "Turnpike". I started out down a side road which I (foolishly) remarked as being one of the nicest "turnpikes" I had ever seen. I twisted and turned along the road through the woods until the pavement abruptly ended!

The next couple miles were spent managing bumps and avoiding rocks along the gravel access road. On the plus side this little detour offered me a great view of the river and I got to move along in the shade.

When I reached Route 44 I turned North as planned but coming across the road I had intended on taking noticed that it looked to offer little more infrastructure than my last path! I decided to turn around and head back into Canton via 44. I crossed the river over the gorge and caught glimpse of a fly fisherman and several tubers enjoying the river...

I hopped off Rt 44 and cut over on Rt 202 and rode down Powder Hill road again crossing a scenic small iron bridge over the river.

From here I headed back through Collinsville, back over the mountain via the now seemingly smaller hill over Mountain Spring Rd and back down Route 4, pleasantly pleased that I had completed my intended ride without getting dreadfully lost and all less than an hour's ride from the city.

Read more!