Monday, December 29, 2008

Bikes = Art

We all think bikes are pretty - that's why we're bike nerds. But now we can emerge from the shame and shadows of bike fetishization and bask in the glorious light of mainstream acceptance. How do I know? Because I finally went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (I hadn't been since before the renovation, since back when I lived in Brooklyn a thousand years ago), and there, among leather couches shaped like decapitated cows and chaise longues made of cardboard, was Puma's folding bike. (There's my snap of the bike above, folded up and locked at MOMA. Incidentally, the bike rack it's locked to is also an item on exhibit.) You know what this proves? That when you see me riding around on my Xootr and think, "Ha ha, look at that herb on his funny clown bicycle!" you are being a philistine, and should be saying, "Dag. That guy is so modern."

Also, unrelatedly, but while I am on the topic (sort of) of pictures I have taken, I just got around to stitching together a pair of panoramas I took on a couple of Bridgeport-New Haven rides. I think they came out kinda nice, so you should look at them. Here are links:

An abandoned theater in West Haven.

Long Island Sound, seen from Milford, I think, or maybe West Haven. Read more!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Critical Mass Hartford this Friday! The Holiday Ride...

carol's sweeeeet flyer...thank you!!!!!!

Come burn off all that yummy food you ate the last two days! Hartford's wintertime critical mass rides are usually as sparse as the leaves on trees; but lets change that and light up the town and spread some holiday cheer!Light up your bikes! Bring extra bells. Decorate! Make it happen!

This could be the beginning of a new tradition in Hartford....decorating your bikes for the December ride. People might start traveling to the 'beat to take part in the ride, pedaling in from around the globe!

Walgreens has LED lights than run on AA batteries, 15 to a strand, for $3.99, sometimes 3 for $10. Hook it up! Beware, many of the sets with white lights have runts, so bring two AA batteries to test before buying! The multi-color lights are all good! Here's a photo of the box i found on the interwebs. These lights kick ass!

glow sticks, bells, garland, tinsel, wrapping paper, other lights, its all good! Read more!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

BBB Pub Crawl II: Repeal Day

Friday, December 5th marked the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the glorious 21st amendment to the US Constitution, and an end to 24 years of prohibition! And we celebrated! Many weeks ago our loyal reader(s) read Rich's original call to action! Well, we acted, and drank that action well!

I rode up to the rear of the spigot and found a dozen bikes locked and chained in all sorts of various configurations. Some looked familiar and i looked forward to seeing friends as well as finding out who the new bicycles belonged to. It was super wonderful to see a bunch of friends after being away for almost two months.

Rich gave a passionate sermon extolling the wonderful virtues of the 21st amendment. His hand gesturing was so full of energy his right arm is captured only as a blur, speedy beyond the realm of digital photography. We reveled, we gave thanks, we stayed late past the schedule and enjoyed the breaking of such earthly rules.

Mere glass cannot stop the energy flow of BBB dap, especially if involving Rich and a liter of beer and el Presidente de China. I believe I once got a text from Lucas proclaiming vegas as "the place where wasted happens!" Yep, pretty much. Two Fridays ago i stayed for two rounds of the special, a liter of any draft and any shot for $10. Dang. But as usual, a good time was had. More amazing photos after the jump including Joel working the stripper pole at Mad Dawg's!

Is Rick doing an anti-flat ritual of some kind as Rich double fists multiple liters of beer and Julia laughs nervously and protects her pizza.

el Prez pimpin' on my old Mercier. Well done!

As promised, Joel working it for Kristen and looking quite sexy!

A few went to Sully's, the most at the Spigot, half made it to Mad Dawgs and a few to the Red Rock. A great night and a hell of a way to return to Hartford! Read more!

biker bars in san fran

I was lucky enough to be able to visit a few friends in Oakland and San Francisco last month and get some good drinking done. Two of the great bars we went to had bicycle parking. Both also had German names. hmmm..... I thought i should share them here, if you are ever in the Mission area, check them out!

The Gestalt Haus in the liter mugs of local brews and indoor bike parking!!!

This spot was the west coast version of Vegas Blvd with liters of beer and a pool table; but Gestalt also has indoor, double decker bicycle parking. sweeeet! The friday night we went was super crowded, but friendly and lots of fun. Lots of great beers and liters, sweet, heavy, never ending liters of frothy goodness.

a sexy shot of the rack and derrick's right side

Zeitgeist and part of thier MASSIVE back patio.

Walk in from the sidewalk and find yerself inside a great bar with lots of interesting crap on the walls and lots of beer to choose from. Then, continue on to the back patio which is crammed full of picnic tables, Octoberfest style. There's a rack to hang atleast a dozen bicycles and of course porta-pottys since we are drinking outside. The beer was good and the atmosphere chill enough to just roll one up, light it and pass it! They also have some slammin' BBQ including veggie options, all grilled outside! yummy! I feel the need to mention the BBQ again. It smells great there

check the crazy elephant with the beer behind pond. 

ps, there's not really more to read! Read more!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Concerning Spelling

Even for a secular Jew like me, this time of year instills thoughts of charity, generosity, and general hot-chocolate-by-roaring-fire good will toward men (and women). But sometimes even a peace-loving man can be so rankled by persistent injustice that the seratonin-augmenting properties of the holiday season fail to quell his righteous anger. So let me just lay it out there: The Capitol [sic] Region Council Of Governments needs to correct the spelling error in its name.

Now, don't get me wrong: I am a huge fan of the CRCOG. They're always working with the CCBA to advance bike-friendly initiatives in our area, and they do lots of other good stuff. I am also a big fan of regionalism generally since, as I have mentioned before, my secret dream is for Connecticut to have county-based school districts. (Will this ever happen? No, it will not.) But damn it all, I am not a fan of writing "Capitol" when you mean "Capital," and I find it unpardonable that this error is perpetuated right there in the organization's name!

You see, a "capitol" is a building where a legislature sits. You know, like that big, gold-domed edifice on Capitol Avenue, pictured above. (No, not Kenny's. That's a bar, and it doesn't even have a dome. Up the street from there, by the park.) A "capital" is the administrative seat of a political subdivision. Many capitals have capitols in them, and Hartford is among these, so I can understand the confusion (CRCOG, by the way, is not the only organization to make this error), but I think that if you want to talk about the towns surrounding the state capital, you want to refer to the Capital Region. (I mean, I guess you could argue that Glastonbury and East Hartford and Avon are in the region of a particular building, but they're equally in the region of Blue Back Square, and I don't see them calling the organization BBSRCOG, you know what I mean?) So what gives?

Well, I don't like to take my petty grievances directly to the internet, so when this problem first came to my attention, I sent CRCOG an e-mail, which I have reproduced below:

To whom it may concern:

Why is it Capitol Region and not Capital Region? Capitol, if I understand correctly, refers to a building where a legislature sits, while capital refers to the administrative seat of a political subdivision. I browsed your website to see if there was an answer, but found nothing. Is it just an oversight not worth correcting, or is there some historical or aesthetic reason CRCOG associates its region with the building rather than the city?

Respectfully, I remain,

Josh Michtom
West Hartford

When I was ten years old, I sent a similarly polite letter to General Mills, taking issue with the slogan of Kix Cereal, "Kid Tested; Mother Approved," because it was sexist, pointing out that I was being raised by my father and my mother had no say in my cereal choices (I am not alone in feeling this way). General Mills didn't change the slogan, but they did send me a very nice letter thanking me for my patronage, claiming to understand my concern, and attempting to persuade me of the acceptability of their slogan on the basis of some inscrutable market polling data. Also, they sent me coupons for two free boxes of any General Mills cereal. TWO FREE BOXES. That my friends, is the tenor of civil discourse I would like to see when I contact an organization to voice linguistic concerns in a friendly way. But not only has CRCOG failed to provide me with coupons of any kind, they have not even dignified my convivial missive with a response!

So what do you have to say for yourself, CRCOG? I want to love you for all the good things you do, but with the slipshod usage in your title you have insulted my intelligence, and with your failure to respond to my e-mail, YOU HAVE INSULTED MY HONOR. Read more!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My First Fixie®

With plenty of help, I recently built my My First Fixie®. El Prez hooked me up with an old Raleigh Pursuit frame (eighties vintage?), complete with fork, headset, stem, two choices of handlebars, front brake calipers, a bottom bracket with a really long spindle, a black water bottle cage, and a glass of rum.

I built the first incarnation of My First Fixie® at Recycle Bicycle in New Britain, side-by-side with the incredibly patient duo of Peter Barr, who is the omniscient boss at Recycle Bicycle, and my sizzlin' girlfriend Kristen. Peter hooked me up with used parts and expertise, and I wowed Recycle Bicyle with a fistful of Hamiltons, baby.

My First Fixie® is now in its second incarnation, with a better fitting bottom bracket, a Sugino track crank, and a 1/8" 48t chainring, all purchased used from a former Philly bike messenger who never wrecked in Philly but recently had a serious accident on a training ride in suburbia. His advice: "Wear your *&^%$#@ helmet!" My First Fixie® now has a 48-17 gear ratio instead of the 53-20 of the first incarnation. I love it! If I get my hands on a camera I'll try to post some pictures. Just keep clicking refresh on your browser and waiting for the pictures. Read more!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


As promised, there was snow riding on Friday night. Joel valiantly attempted to come, but the bus from Windsor wasn't running (and riding all the way from Windsor was, understandably, a little much). Will un-valiantly decamped to New York for the weekend. Brendan even more un-valiantly went incommunicado all evening. But Rich and I were in it to win it, as is our custom.

The plan was to meet at Chez Rich for a pre-ride fortifier around 9:00, then take to the streets. Owing to some complicating factors, I didn't arrive till 10:15. Complicating Factor #1: My elder son was on some stay-up-late-and-worry-about-monsters ish. Complicating Factor #2: Hartford was on some plow-the-east-west-streets-but-leave-the-north-south-streets-untouched ish. Factor 1 only slowed me down by fifteen minutes, but Factor 2 brought the ruckus. I feel like to took me about half an hour to go from Park to Farmington on Whitney. The Special Tour de France was in full effect, and I really think there's no better mix of speed, toughness, and versatility for most conditions than a 30-year-old three-speed, but I would have needed some Puglsey-type tires to keep it rolling in that cruddy mess.

Anyway, once I reached Rich's deluxe apartment in the sky, we imbibed a bit, talked of serious matters such as women and bike repair (not the combination; we just talked about both of those things), then went out to Bushnell Park. I had the idea to bomb down the hill from the Capitol parking lot toward the band shell, which was theoretically a good idea, but the snow was so very deep that even on that incline, we had to pedal constantly to keep moving. So we decided to find another, steeper hill. After brief consideration, we decided that the downward slope from Park Terrace into Pope Park might do the trick, so we headed that way.

It was nice riding across town with the roads pretty much to ourselves. Lots of people were out and about, shovelling, commenting on the absurdity of riding bikes (one guy standing in front of a bodega offered this grammatically ponderous but perfectly intelligle interjection: "On bikes?!!"), and you know, walking through snow. We passed a car dealership on Sisson where all the cars had been turned on and most of them had their headlights on. The logical explanation for this might be that the proprietor wanted to warm up all the cars to melt the snow and ice on them so they would look sharp for the next day's shoppers (because what better thing to do when your car is stuck in a snowbank than go buy a new one in Frog Hollow?). Some other explanations I like more: (1) The proprietor dropped a contact lens somewhere on the lot and turned on all the headlights to look for it; (2) We happened to witnessing a well-planned, multi-vehicle theft, รก la Gone in Sixty Seconds.

Eventually, we reached Pope Park. After some surveying, we chose a spot that seemed likely to provide the steepest slope. It started with a moderate, rolling hill, crossed a path, then went down a very steep slope with some low, sparse bushes. It was fun, in the sense that the bikes actually kept moving despite the deep snow, but I couldn't stick the landing - I crashed over and over again at the bottom. Snow is good for falling down. Rich managed not to crash, but in the process couldn't keep enough momentum to maintain forward motion.

Then we set our sights on the large hill on the west side of the park, next to the highway. In hindsight, this was a bad choice, because reaching the summit involved considerable slogging, and the descent failed to satisfy. (I never noticed how flat Hartford it. It is very flat.) There were also snowmobilesmachines (thanks, Todd Palin!) in the park. That looked like fun, except for, like, the 48 weeks of the year when there's not that much snow on the ground and you have to devote some large portion of your home to storing a $5000, gas-guzzling, pony-sized item. (That's why I sold my diesel-powered pony, by the way.) Anyway, after that, we gave up and went to our respective homes, because we were tired and sweaty, and the snow was just too damned deep.

All of that said, I strongly recommend riding bikes in the snow. It is good exercise, it allows you to see beauty (because no matter how ugly a place, when you blanket it in snow, it looks nice), and while the risk of losing control of the vehicle is at least as high on two wheels as on four, the risks to self and others are appreciably lower. Also, you don't so often get stuck in a ditch. Read more!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Favorite Ads: Alternative Fuels

Ride on, patriot.

Today's snow event makes this the ideal time to post this. If the ad embedded below isn't my most favorite commercial of all-time, it's certainly on the short list. The calm serenity and silence of the falling snow. The look of gruff, self-satisfied, determination on the face of our protagonist. The stark blue-gray colors of the scene. The tone of extreme masculine admiration by the voice-over. And of course, the constant tink-tink-tinking of the worthy cargo. This ad is wonderful.

Apparently this whole campaign for the Champagne of Beer was done by Errol Morris. I think it's a requirement whenever you blog about any of these ads to mention that, despite me not knowing exactly who that is. But his wikipedia page shows he's somebody impressive. Here's a page with links to all the other ads from that campaign.

Click here, if having your video embedded isn't your thing. Read more!

Dashing through the snow...

He's not riding the wrong way. This photo is from the BBC.

When you take drivers ed in the snow belt regions of the northeast, you receive a wonderfully fun assignment: take a car out to an empty, snow-covered parking lot somewhere (away from any light poles) and throw the car into skids, slides, and spins. Do whatever you can: jam the steering wheel hard one direction, yank on the emergency brake...whatever. The instructor told us to do this because it's the only real way to learn how to control a car skidding in the snow. (Later in life, I used these skills to scare the crap out of a San Diego native who was experiencing his first Rochester winter).

Today, Connecticut is getting it's first snowstorm of the season. Around 1 pm or so, the snow started falling in the 'Beat, and we're getting about 1 inch per hour. All my coworkers scurried out to their cars to get home before it started piling up. While I left the option to throw my bike on a CT Transit bus open, I was really excited because this was the first chance I've really had to do a commute on more than a dusting of snow.

The Breezer was ready, except for not having any good knobby or studded tires. They're still pretty thick, so I had faith they would be adequate. I locked up the office at 3:00 and started down the incline from my parking lot. That lasted a whole 3 seconds before I took my spill, half-laughing. Right. Watch it on the hills. I spent the first couple of blocks working trying to get a feel for the technique and riding style I would need to get home. And that's pretty much when I remembered my lessons from drivers ed. You can think you know how to ride in snow, but it isn't until you force yourself to lose control when you really learn how to pull out of it and how to avoid doing so in the first place. By the end of my office park, I felt very comfortable with the skidding.

A couple of observations ala Larry King:

I found that my snow driving skillz translate very well to the bike: no sudden changes, countersteering, pumping the brakes....I would've thought that riding in car tire grooves would be preferable, but no...the fresh snow on the shoulder is the way to go. A couple of times I had to play the game "Oh! That's where the curb is." My black winter clothing in general isn't as visible in clear weather as it should be. But in a snowstorm? It's the most visible thing out there....Kids in East Hartford have terrible snowball aim. Missed me, punks! And I wasn't even going very fast....A set of goggles would've been handy. That's a wet snow out there, and my face got soaked....I saw more plows on empty residential streets than I did on the semi-major thoroughfares like Burnside Ave or Main St....Bunny hopping under bridges to knock the snow temporarily off of fenders, brakes, and you is pretty freaking fun. Going down hills that are normally fun is still fun in the snow, just more in a "I hope I don't die" kind of fun....From the Founders Bridge, the only reason I could see the Convention Center was because of the lights on the building. Couldn't even begin to make out where the Colt onion dome was....Hey, there are traffic cones set up on a bridge on Constitution Plaza, I think to mark and keep the drainage areas clear. I dare anyone to ride past them and not slalom!...The snow piling up and freezing in my helmet's vent holes makes for a very humorous version of helmet hair. Read more!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Your Sausage Gets Made

Our three regular readers have come to expect a high caliber of content here at the Beat Bike Blog. Because a blog isn't just a bunch of words and typos occupying no physical space and ignored by everyone. No, my friends, a blog is the product of bloggers. Yes, it's true. This internet magic is the work of real, flesh-and-blood nerds who pour their souls into the thankless endeavor of making your interweb-surfing experience just a little bit better. We craft our posts, we confer about matters of style and policy, and we plan exciting bicycle adventures and report on them so you don't have to.

But how does it happen? you ask. How does this crack team of cycling enthusiasts chart a course for two-wheeled high-living such as might yield posts like this or this? Why not take a peek into the process, and perhaps learn something about consensus-building, friendship, and America? Why not, indeed:

Brendan: ride home [from midnight reservoir ride] was cold
Chillwill: cold? my elf outfit from the paerty kept me toasty!
Joel: Cold? Yes. But I'm a hot and sweaty bastard! Windsor is boring!
Brendan: We ought to do this again. Maybe start slightly earlier.
El Prez: Maybe in the snow.
Brendan: Maybe in the danger.
Rich: Maybe in your mom.
Brendan I don't think that I like the tone of that.
El Prez: Considering her predilection for indiscriminate and frequent sexual congress with all manner of dubious characters (many of them paying customers), I think it would be fair to say that "Maybe in danger" and "Maybe in your mom" are substantially equivalent.
El Prez: Much snow is predicted. Should we take to the streets, two-wheel style?
Brendan: Is it predicted for tonight or tomorrow morning?
I was thinking about doing some after work mountain biking.
El Prez: Right you are. So how about tomorrow night? 9:oo p.m.
Brendan: depends on the salt on the road. I don't want my fancy components to seize
El Prez: So ride a less fancy bike. Duh.
Brendan: ???
El Prez: Does that mean that fancy is the only way your ride?
El Prez: (Also, clearly no one else is on e-mail but us, so we're carrying on this dialogue for our own amusement and no one else's)
Rich: No, I'm amused in my rapidly emptying office.
Also, I'm planning on going to Boston tomorrow night.
El Prez: Probably to protect your fancy components.
Rich: My components are so fancy they are hermetically sealed from all non-fancy elements, and when I say "components," I'm really talking about deez nutz.
People like Ken are gonna be pissed when they check email.
El Prez: See attached image.

Read more!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Horsey Horse

Horses are weird.

I try not to let my job and this blog overlap very much, but sometimes, I think this place is a good sounding board. Beat Bike Bloggers and their affiliates often find themselves in Keney Park. So, this is probably of interest.

There has been discussion for a long time (since the mid 1990s) about the development of an equestrian center in the northern part of Keney, specifically near the Barbour street entrance, a wooded area. It would be around two hundred acres (slightly less than one third of the park). I'm not going to express my opinion here, but I'd like to know what others think of this plan. What is the role of a 19th century, woodsy, and at times underutilized park at the beginning of the 21st century? Are the present Greater Hartford equestrian centers inadequate? Should parks be retrofitted as economic development drivers?

There's a meeting tonight of the Public Works, Parks, and Environment committee at 5:30 in the Council Chambers at City Hall to discuss this. The plans and more information will be available there. Maybe you should stop by. Read more!

Chance for the Beat to shine!

check this out:

got the link from the great ones who run

what do you guys say, should we set up a team and get into one of these leagues? lets see how many miles we can rack up! Read more!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mud and cowbells! Mud and cowries!

Photo credit to *Denise* on Flickr.

I resurrected the old Stumpjumper for a ride at the Reservoir last night. The surprisingly warm mid-December temperatures definitely invited it. Even the drizzle/mist for the first half of the ride wasn't too bad (though it made my pants kind of heavy (I don't know why I decided to wear pants)), and, unlike usual humid rides, the top of mountain wasn't in a cloud. The falling mist and the unfrozen ground made for a greasy ride, but no crashes. Someday, I hope someone joins me on one of these. It's like that ride we took on Saturday, but triply exciting.

Photo credit to Johanna, who's the best girlfriend in the world for accompanying me to Dayville for this race and taking pictures of me.
There are some other reasons, too.

I think the Danielson Adventure Sports' Beer Cross thing was great. I did two of the three races. Since I'm not very fast, I never did that well, but had a great time. They're very low key, but have a nice course and everyone is friendly. They also don't have horrible music blasting the entire time like most races.

At this last race, I think I did ok. I started slightly better than usual and was just off the leaders. However, since they're the leaders and are fast, I never saw them again except off in the distance when the course opened up. Like in most races, I found myself in no man's land. Significantly behind the leaders, but also significantly ahead of some other group. At point, some really fast guy caught up to me and passed me at a great rate of speed. It was impressive. Later, with two laps to go, this other guy caught up to me after I had made silly mistakes. It was pretty exciting, we exchanged positions a few times. I finally passed him with about a half lap to go and was holding him off pretty well. My brakes weren't going to have any of that success though, and with about 500 yards left, they quit at the bottom of a hill and I crashed into a bunch trees. The guy, who's actually pictured above, passed me and I never caught back up.

Also, pictured up there is the horrible labyrinth they decided the course needed. Over all it was a quick course and then all of a sudden there was this terrible and muddy thing that I could never get through with any amount of speed. Ugh! It was totally unnecessary.

Now that the 'cross season is over, I must say, it's way more fun than mountain bike racing. Maybe it's the bigger field, maybe it's the more laps, maybe it's the barriers; but I feel like there's a lot more happening. However, riding a 'cross bike is a lot less fun than mountain biking. Maybe I should Read more!


i was in brooklyn over the weekend and exchanged christmas gifts with one of my oldest friends. actually, with this gift he has pretty much been elevated beyond deity status.

i am always hunting for clothes that will be comfortable on the bike and not require a change on arrival for work, going out, whatever. in short, dress clothes that are comfy for riding. of course they can't cost an arm and a leg either...

enter: you guys should check out their stuff. my friend got me a pair of the Endeavor PNT II pants and they are awesome. hidden leg vents to let the sweat out, stretchy fabric, cut to fit someone with, as they put it, "hockey butt" and a 37" inseam!!! they look dressy enough for work too. plus i understand if you ask they will cut you a deal on alterations in case you don't need the whole 37.... i do, and its tough to find any pants that long so this is awesome!

if i could just jet around in their pants all the time, i would, if any of you from lulu are reading, i am available for sponsorship..............

anyway, this comes with just a couple ordering days before christmas if any of you can convince your loved ones!! Read more!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Moonlight Magic!

Two nights ago I had to run to the bank at about 10:00 at night. The moon was full, the air was crisp and clear, and it was truly a joy to be alive and on two wheels, as I indulged my recent hobby of seeking out as many mid-block shortcuts as possible between my house and West Hartford center. It was fun, it was muddy, and the only thing missing was the BBB crew, so yesterday, I got on the intertubes and sent the word out: Tonight, we ride!

As it happened, Chillwill had a party to attend in West Hartford, and Lucas was celebrating his special lady's birthday at the Spigot, so the stars aligned: A couple of folks swung by the spigot, a couple of folks came straight over, and by 10:30, Joel, Will, Brendan, Rich, and I were at la Casa Presidencial, having consumed a beer, some wine, and a slice of pumpkin pie a piece. Properly fortified against the late Fall chill, we embarked.

We started with my favorite shortcut: Behind Sedgwick Middle School on Sedgwick Road in W.H., there is a very steep, short hill that leads down to some soccer fields. Then at the far corner of the soccer fields, there is a shaded alley that leads through to the next street. Truthfully, there is no better time to traverse this than a freezing, moonlit night: The muddy field is crunchy, the bright sky makes it (fairly) easy to see and avoid random benches (of which there are a few), and, well, it's fun and pretty. I think only Joel wiped out going down the hill.

After emerging on Lemay Street, we went over to Farmington Ave., then jogged over to Pleasant Street so we could cut north through Fernridge Park and take Fern west. Fernridge Park at night, by the way, was great. There were big, swampy, frozen puddles that crunched and crackled delightfully underwheel.

When Fern crosses Mountain Road, it turns into Hunter Drive, which is important because the name change is a signal to those in the know that the street is changing from a place where you'd like to have a nice bike ride on a cold night after a few beers to a place where there is a big-ass hill that makes you sweat too much for your warm clothing and wonder why the hell you signed up for this goddamn route. But it's all good. We got to the top of the hill and went into the reservoir.

Inside the reservoir trails it was really quiet and nice, but there were lots of icy patches, which Joel graciously found by wiping out on them. We looped here and there before stopping beside the reservoir and throwing pebbles along its thinly iced surface, making strange, skittering noises as the ice groaned and shifted. It sounded more or less like morse code messages tapped out on a high-tension bridge-suspension cable, but with Will and me making mom jokes in the background. In short, nature's majesty at its finest.

After a healthy dose of nature contemplation (including many shooting stars!), we headed out to Canal Road, which is a bike path, that runs parallel to Mountain road about a half-mile up the mountain. Presumably, it used to have a canal of the sort one might use for moving barges full of beaver pelts or something, but now it has a tiny little canal, suitable only for moving twelve-packs or medium-sized cats on barges to all points inland. Brendan left us at this point, but we soldiered on to Slider's party.

Amazingly, when we arrived at midnight the party was basically over but for a few stragglers. There was a guy there who saw my Brooklyn sweatshirt and asked if I was from Brooklyn. When I said yes, he said, "Well fuckety fuck fuck," which I thought was an allusion to Brooklynites' famous propensity for profanity. It turns out he just likes to say "fuckety fuck fuck," because he said it again and again while we nursed beers by the fire. He sometimes also addressed people as "Dick Dog." There were also other people there, though none quite as amusing. Also, cookies. We stayed till 2:30. That is all. Read more!

Friday, December 12, 2008

NORAD Tracking Santa

Ho ho ho!

As you may know, NORAD tracks Santa. I was watching their video of Santa flying and was surprised to see him take off from a small island that was entirely surrounded by water. Santa lives at the North Pole, isn't that supposed to be frozen in the winter? (or all year) I emailed them with my concerns and all I got was this:

Thank you for emailing NORAD.

All of us here at NORAD are programming our satellites, calibrating
our radar systems, testing our Santa Cams, and flying training
missions in our jet fighters in preparation for Santa's 2008 flight.
Unfortunately, that leaves us little time to answer emails personally.

Please email us again on December 24th when a NORAD Santa Tracker will
be available to respond.

Happy tracking!
Warm Regards,
The NORAD Tracks Santa Team

This is even more distressing! Everyone at NORAD is getting ready to track Santa? Our skies aren't safe! Read more!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two personal items

My knee is feeling better, thanks to everyone who had advice. Although, it seems to be the inserts for my shoes that Johanna gave me that did the most good.

Also, come to Dayville this Sunday for the Opa Opa Beercross. It'll be fun. They even give you free beer.

Read more!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two news items about getting around

I saw a guy walking down the street today having this problem.

Over at urban compass, Robert Cotto writes about that New Haven to Springfield commuter train.

The Courant wrote about the short lived Asylum Ave bike lane. At least Kevin Burnham tried.

It's nasty outside today. Read more!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lovely Rita...

Since Brendan mentioned his waning optimism about the promise of bike racks on existing parking meters in the 'Beat, I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss the big changeover happening now on the streets of Hartford. Some of you may have noticed the new parking pay-stations appearing all over downtown. That's one pictured there on the right. Some of them are active now, others are still wrapped up in plastic, waiting to be unleashed into service. The city's parking authoritah is calling the system "pay and display." Isn't that all catchy and rhymey? Very Ron Popeil.

So say goodbye to all the existing parking meters. Why are they doing this? What's in it for them? Well:

  1. No more set parking spots. Cram as many cars as you can onto the street and charge 'em all. Everybody buy Smartcars!
  2. No more losing money by having someone find an unexpired meter and squatting on the previous person's quarter.
  3. Finally cover the few streets downtown that didn't have meters installed.
  4. A central point to post parking regulations and hours.
  5. Central collection spots for the meter people. Now all they have to do is ride by on their segways checking dashboards. All while probably writing erroneous tickets when it snows because they can't see your dash.
  6. Fewer things at risk of vandalism.
  7. Hey, these puppies are solar! "Look at us, we're so green."
  8. Networked, so the robots can report back to the mothership about how much they're raking in.
  9. 25 cent minimum, which gives you 15 minutes. No more cheapskates looking to park for a nickel. This also means more dimes for a brother to spare.
And I guess the benefits for the citizens who use them: your ticket is good even if you move your car, and you can now use plastic if you don't have any change. Yay, credit! There's nothing like using the vast Visa/MasterCard network to charge 25 cents. No bill readers, but I'm betting that those mechanisms break easily when exposed to the elements.

Basically, I'm ambivalent about the new machines, other than the fact that some of them are right in the middle of sidewalks now. I'm for progress and making things more convenient to draw people into the city.

But, back to the original point, what becomes of the old meter posts? Hm. Maybe a cool city like Seattle has some ideas?

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Bicycle Program conducted a pilot program in 2005, installing 11 "Bicycle-Circle" racks on meter posts in Capitol Hill that otherwise would have been removed as the neighborhood transitioned to an electronic based Paystation Parking system. Working closely with Creative Metalworks, the Bicycle Program staff refined the design of the rack into a product suitable for installation on public sidewalks.

Retrofitting just a few of these posts every block is easy, and this changeover presents the ideal time and opportunity to do so. It would make Hartford a friendlier and more welcoming place to be.

Bahhhhh...Who am I kidding? I'm sure they'll just rip them all out. Scrap metal is worth something in the new economy. Read more!


Cold bike! Also, have I used this picture before? Not having a camera is forcing me to do a lot of recycling.

Now that it's been cold for a few days now, I feel like I'm comfortable in the cold again. Instead of my numb fingers and toes being an unbearable pain, they've become the standard feeling while outside. I've also started doing that pursed lips breathing by habit now.

Speaking of riding your bike to work, there are big doings in New York right now. The Council is looking at two bills that would benefit bike commuters regarding bike parking in buildings and parking structures. It'd be very cool legislation if it passes. New York seems to be notorious in barring bicycles from buildings. Hartford, at least in my experience, is pretty good. My bike has a happy home in the foyer of my office and also had a happy home inside at La Paloma Sabanera. However, the flip side for Hartford is that we have no bike racks anywhere. Loyal readers may recall me writing about attending meetings about getting bike racks around six months ago. Well, I was promised by the Parking Authority that we'd have some racks on top of the parking meter polls back in July. I haven't seen anything and I've stopped holding my breath.

Image from Shrunken like this makes it not look blurry from the bumps.

Finally, I've decided that I'm going to do the D2R2 next year, the 106 mile route. I think it'll be awesome and difficult. Or, awesomely difficult. Or, difficultly awesome. Anybody wanna do it with me? I think Johanna wants to do it. If we all do sub-ten hour rides, the northeast cycling community will have tons of respect for the beat. Read more!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Brrr... and Bike to Work

suck factor was pretty high today heading directly into that north wind down franklin ave. but it was worth it to see the car drivers staring at my frozen snot covered beard as i whizzed by them haulin down the road....

for the group, discussion of bike to work events. as you all know, ccba has hosted bike to work events every month for the past several years. there are small satelite events, but the main ones have been downtown hartford. inside at jojo's when its cold, outside at the old state house when its warm.

we have had a lot of new people and a lot of old faces as well at these events, but attendance seems to have leveled out and ccba is wondering if monthly events are still the way to go as opposed to shifting focus to a workplace based program with just one or two big public events every year.

thoughts? Read more!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


This is Maine, but their snow is similar in composition to ours.

We got our first snowfall of the season this morning. The South End was looking pretty with its layer of frosting. After my breakfast of crabcake Benedict and homefries, I checked in with my friend Jacob to see if he still planned to go mountain biking with me today. Snow didn't deter him, so we headed up Hunter Drive and did a loop of the reservoir. Riding on an inch of powder is a rare joy. Hopefully this is what we keep getting in terms of snow fall this year. Although, I bet my snow shoes would like to get some use. Read more!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Recycle Bicycle

Here's a link to Adam Bulger's 2007 story about Recycle Bicycle, the bicycle recycle program for kids in New Britain. Bulger's article provides a short and sweet overview and vignette of the shop.

I couldn't find anything else on the web about this place, but I heard of it this fall at an alleycat race. It might be helpful to get a little wordamouth going for them. Also, if you have old bikes or bike parts that kids could use to build bikes for themselves, bring them down to 225 Arch St. in New Britain.

I'm going to visit Recycle Bicycle tonight... and then we are going to celebrate Prohibition Repeal Day. Read more!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BBB Bike Pub Crawl II: Repeal Day (+ Chill Will is back!)

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Friday, December 5th marks the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the glorious 21st amendment to the US Constitution, which gave us back the hooch. Did our country, the home of the free and all that, really outlaw alcohol from 1919 to 1933?? That's a serious WTF.

Some trivia: The 21st is the only amendment ratified by state conventions rather than the state legislatures. It was rejected by South Carolina, and eight other states to this day have not ratified it. Michigan was the first to ratify on April 10th, 1933. But can you guess which 3 states clinched the passage on Dec. 5th, 1933? Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Yes, that's right...UTAH put us over the top. Oh, what a night that must have been. I'm thinking similar to the famous VJ Day photo but much more embarrassing and grope-tacular.

So get gussied up in your best rum-running 1930s attire. This calls for the 2nd Bike Pub Crawl. This Friday night Dec. 5th, in and around Hartford.

There is even more reason for celebration, as beatbikeblog denizen Sir Chilliam William is back in town and will be attending! He has repealed his stay in California! So this is the perfect opportunity to come ride and hang with Chill Will!!!

I'm going to sketch out a suggested route here, but I'll take suggestions in the comments and update this post as needed.

* Sully's has a band that starts at 10:00. If they're charging a cover at 8 pm, we'll call an audible and start at West Wings (which is around the corner on Prospect next to Wendy's) instead.

Read more!

Bike Parts for Sale; Only Fascinating People May Inquire

Making fun of craigslist and its posters' poor judgment, poor understanding or supply and demand, and poor command of the English language is an easy and fruitful pursuit. The Bike Snob has elevated it to an art and even we humble BeatBikeBloggers have dabbled in it from time to time. Usually, these bouts of ridicule have focused on the substantive foolishness of the poster, like when someone tries to sell a used version of a bike for $4 more than it sells for new, rather than on bad writing, which is almost too ubiquitous to bother with on the 'list. But today, something amusing caught my eye: Some guy in West Hartford is selling "2 Mountain Bike saddle with seatpost." The ad is has photos and tells would-be buyers, "If interesting, email me at" That is funny! No boring people may buy my mountain bike saddles! But it's not worth a blog post, because people who type quickly tend to put the wrong word sometimes - I, for example, have a lot of trouble typing "react" because I always, automatically type "reaction." It's not a typo, exactly, it's just a weird muscle memory thing, and substituting "interesting" for "interested" seems to be the same sort of error. EXCEPT THAT THE POSTER DID IT AGAIN WHEN SELLING A STEM. AND AGAIN WHEN SELLING A FORK. ALSO FOR THE HANDLEBARS. AND THE BRAKE LEVER.

I think he really only wants to sell to scintillating people.

UPDATE: He really did mean to write "interesting." How do I know? Now he has posted a solid tube for sale (the kind that doesn't need air and makes your ass hurt a lot), and in this ad, he does not limit inquiries to interesting people. Obviously, the saddles, stem, fork, handlebar, and brake lever were meant to be sold to interesting people, but the guy doesn't give a damn who buys his airless 20" tire. Read more!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Intersection Puzzler: Founders Bridge Edition

This is a thought-exercise I think of just about every time I pass through this intersection. The above Microsoft Spy Satellite photo shows a quirky intersection at the end of the Pitkin St. exit ramp in East Hartford. The 2 roads at the bottom of the pic are the ramps to/from I-84. Pitkin St. is labeled, and the road at the top is an entrance to the Founders Plaza business park parking lot. All four arms of the intersection are controlled by a standard traffic light. (Click the photo for a larger version.)

Now the path that hits Pitkin on the right hand side of the photo is the pedestrian/bicycle path coming off the Founders Bridge which I use on my daily peregrination to my place of business. Cruising off the hill from the bridge, I get a pretty clear view of all four streets as well as the traffic light since it's elevated. Generally, I can time my speed and judge by the state of the traffic light and the pace of the traffic in all four directions to make my left onto Pitkin without losing my momentum off the bridge.

My query: I can make an argument that I correctly obeyed the traffic law by zooming through my left turn without stopping for either one of the traffic light's two states. If the green light is in the ramp/parking lot direction, I can say that the bridge path is in the same direction in its intersection with Pitkin and I therefore have the green light. However, if the Pitkin St. traffic has the green, I can argue that when I actually get on Pitkin, I have not yet entered the intersection that the light controls due to the entry point of the bridge access path, so I therefore can claim the green as I proceed on Pitkin.

Which interpretation do you fine readers think is the correct one?

I only pose this because last week, I made my usual left turn and had to dodge a car careening out of the opposite parking lot at about 20 mph, making a right on red. Had we collided, I'm certain the driver of the car would've been at fault since he wasn't even close to coming to a complete stop before making the right on red. But I wanted to know if my argument "I was on Pitkin proceeding through a green light" is legally kosher.

We also had some confusion with this exact traffic light on a Critical Mass this past summer as some people stopped at the bottom of the path for the light and others proceeded unfettered.

Here's one more photo of the same intersection from the opposite angle only because the "birdseye view" feature of Microsoft Live Maps is both scary and cool, kinda like Google Maps StreetView. Read more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Crunchy Ground

I rode tonight at the reservoir. While I think the temperature was mostly in the 35-40 range, the area by the dike near 44 was below freezing so the standing water, dew, and mud were getting crunchy. It's a great feeling. I hadn't encountered it yet this season. Sort of like Annie Lennox, I was riding on broken glass, but figuratively. Last night I was actually riding on broken glass on Brookfield and had to walk the last mile home from the Spigot.

Please pardon the Annie Lennox comment. Read more!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Critical Mass. San Francisco. Nov 2008

The big one! The OG ride. Wow!

After traveling, camping, exploring, and enjoying abundant sunshine and redwoods in northern Cali for two months, but missing bicycles; I have returned to civilization! I actually returned just in time to meet up with shoup in Oakland, borrow a bike and get our butts to SF to ride critmass with a few hundred new friends. Its great to be back and posting again. And great to be on a bike again. I'll be back in hartford this week and i guess i'll also be wearing gloves and more clothes due to this thing in the beat we call...wintery mix! burrrrrrrr! Cali has certainly spoiled me!

The ride begins @ Justin Herman Plaza at 6pm, and just like hartford, the ride began a bit later. I think there were about 150-200 to start, but later on, a half hour into the ride, the mass swelled to 300-400 riders. Wow. This was my first CM at night, and lots of people had outfits, glowsticks and all kinds of colorful lights for night ride parties. Nice! The vibe was awesome with music, lights, yelling, smiling and people in crazy outfits and custom bike wierdness.

There were two bikes with boomin' sound systems. This was the louder one, and it was LOUD! But the other had disco lights and a disco ball lighting up the streets and more danceable beats, but they both kept us keepin' us smilin' and hollerin'. We need more of this in the beat!

shoup bobbin' and weavin' through people, cops, busses and trolleys in Union Square

Union square was a mess! thousands of shoppers and gridlocked traffic...before we arrived. Add in hundreds of cyclists and dozens of motorcycle cops and you got anarchy! Woo-haa!

We had to regroup after that whole mess and did so in the middle of an intersection for 10 or 15 minutes, obnoxiously blocking all traffic. The cops just sat there, watched, and kept the cars in check. I couldn't believe it was happening, but it was certainly acceptable. The police, lots of police, were escorting the ride mostly on motorcycles. We led and sometimes corked, but the popo's were blocking many intersections and yelling at cars that tried to go through green lights and into the mass. Yes! Any time a car tried to run a green light, cops would sound horns and sirens and make them stop and wait. The police seemed to just be keeping cars out of the ride. Strange! It was kinda nice, but I also kinda wished they weren't there at all, and we just looked after eachother.

We rode up through the Stockton Tunnel, hopped the center curb and rode back down the otherside. That's the bubble lady. She had an automatic bubble blower hooked up to her bicycle and mad lights! Yeah bubble lady!

The ride returned to Herman Plaza and half the riders stopped and the other half of the mass continued on towards the Mission. This group slowly shrunk until Shoup, Jeff and I were leading a dwindling mass of a few dozen people down Mission Street, with more than a dozen motorcycle cops behind us!! When we finally pulled over to get beer for the park at a corner store, the remaining riders and cops scattered even more. The police motorcycles outnumbered the bicycles at this point!

there's a few post ride pics after the jump!

a tasty post ride deuce deuce of redstripe in dolores park

shoupy and i in the park. beer and bicycles seem to really affect him!

Read more!


The 1983 Bronco got 27MPG on the highway. Not too shabby.

I'm sure many of you have seen the "SUV SUX" bumper sticker before. However, have you ever seen it on an SUV? I did this morning and was thoroughly baffled. Do they mean that their suv sucks? I mean, it was a mid 80s Branco, which is certainly no Cayenne. Were they just missing the irony? Who knows? I was so confused that I almost got hit by a truck by South Green. Read more!

Why Amtrak Why?

this post is a special shoutout to my extraordinarily cool brother, admiral skreed.

the admiral was extremely generous in offering to deliver a bike i sold from hartford to philly on his way home this morning from thanksgiving. i redo bikes and sell them pretty regularily (if anyone needs anything let me know, i can usually find it and do it up just for you, shameless plug over....) and i had one that was on its way so this should have worked out great.

the admiral went in early to catch his amtrak train from hartford this morning and was told that you cannot bring bikes on amtrak anymore from hartford. in fact, no baggage is allowed because the baggage service has been suspended and won't be coming back. as the ticket lady explained, you can SOMETIMES con the train guys to take baggage, but they aren't supposed to.

skreed walked right over to peter pan and they took him and the bike no problem and no extra charge. he got a credit on amtrak and has to sit in the port authority for an extra hour today, but it worked out. thank you for your sacrifice admiral, it is appreciated.

but the point is not that my brother is cool, its that amtrak is just horrid. why do we continue to subsidize (through the feds) a train "service" that is extremely expensive, universally late and incapable of taking anything larger than a carryon? shouldn't the train be better than the bus or the car? ugh, frustrating, but i thought i should update the beat readers so they know what to do when traveling out of hartford with no car and with bikes in tow..... Read more!