Thursday, January 29, 2009

Voltron is Needed Once More

You know what show was totally stupid? Car Voltron. Because seriously, it's like they just drew a big-ass robot and broke it into boxy components that looked only slightly like actual cars, plus there were a bazillion of them, so no character development, etc. But you know what show rocked? Lion Voltron. In addition to having a kick-ass robot made out of five kick-ass lions, each of which had a specific realm of influence, Lion Voltron had the following cool opening narration:

From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend. The legend of Voltron: Defender of the Universe. A mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil. As Voltron's legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy. On Planet Earth, a Galaxy Alliance was formed. Together with the good planets of the Solar System, they maintained peace throughout the universe until a new horrible menace threatened the galaxy. Voltron was needed once more. This is the story of the superforce of space explorers. Specially trained and sent by the alliance to bring back, Voltron: Defender of the Universe.

I like how fast and loose they play with the universe/galaxy/solar system distinction, but more importantly, I like the notion of a super-powerful force for good that is called upon only in times of extreme crisis. For me, that mighty force is the internet, and it has done well by me. Remember when my bike got stolen from my car in the Dirty Water? I posted about it here, and the internet came through: I got an awesome free bike.

Now, a new horrible menace is threatening my galaxy. To wit, my beloved Corolla has perished, a victim of acute arthritis of the motor. I was driving through North Haven on the Merritt on Tuesday evening when the oil light went on. I pulled over on the snowy side of the road, poured a quart of oil in there, and all seemed well, except that I almost needed Voltron to get me out of the semi-frozen snow beside the parkway (and I didn't even have the Xootr, so I couldn't have ridden down the Merritt to get help, which is almost a shame, because I saw a guy riding a bike on the Merritt once, and he seemed like a total superstar of toughness). Anyway, I was cruising along after getting back on the road when the ol' engine started a knockin' (if this toyota's a knockin', don't come rockin'). I pulled into a gas station almost immediately, but the engine was shot.

I got towed to a garage in New Haven (highlight: we had to cut through one of those emergency turnaround places on the Merritt, and the tow truck driver told me proudly, "I'm an emergency vehicle; I get to do all kinds of crazy shit"), and ultimately learned from the mechanic there that the car was properly dead. Thanks to the magic of craigslist, I found some dude in Meriden who had the car towed and bought it from me for $500. (He also asked me if a friend of his could call me to get legal advice about DCF involvement. I said sure.)

So now I have $493 ($97 went to the garage in New Haven, for the hour of diagnostic work and three (wasted) quarts of oil), but that doesn't go very far when it comes to purchasing an automobile. Case in point: This ad. That's why I need the internet.

CAR DEALERS, I AM SPEAKING TO YOU!!! Do you have some car that you are having trouble moving off the lot? Maybe the sales of this item would increase if you plastered it with advertising and allowed me to drive it all over the state! Have you considered how effective it would be to have a hip and handsome young lawyer like me incorporating your automobile into a complicated, earth-friendly, multi-modal commute? I have considered it, and the answer is, it would be very effective. Many young people would purchase the car. For you, I will do this for no cost at all - all you have to do is let me use the car! I will take good care of it! For you, I will even respect the speed limits.

Seriously. My work requires me to have a car. I need a car. I will take any car. I will take one of those bullshit, boxy, Car Voltron cars. There has to be some kind of deal we can make, right? Read more!

The Eel 2

Cool picture of a double rainbow, huh?

I said at some point that I was going to do a sequeel to the eel. However, we've been getting a lot of snow and the wooded environs are all unrideable. Judging by the weather so far this winter, they won't be clearing up any time soon.

So, I propose a new race for either Feb 21 or 28. It'll be a point to point road race, similar to the eel, but not a loop. You'll choose you're own route to some extent, but it'll be more structured than an alley cat.

What do you all think of this? Good idea? Bad idea? Anybody wanna race? What should it be called?

Ideas for names so far:
the hart
the crow
the squirrel
the least shrew
the Puritan Tiger Beetle (or just the beetle)
the northern harrier
the lynx Read more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grossest commute ever!

At one point, I road through this!

I guess there weren't frogs falling from sky or wads of mucus, but today was undoubtedly the grossest commute ever. Everything was six inches of ice-water-slush. Ugh. I guess it could be worse if Hartford didn't have paved roads and there was a monsoon.

Anyone have a pleasant experience today? Read more!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You Can't See Me

As regular BBB readers know, I recently became a fixed gear rider, and I'm lovin' it. But I'm not a messenger and I don't have that messenger Je ne sais quoi. I feel like I need a new outfit to go with my cool new bike. How about this:

Start with one of these great shirts.

Pair the shirt with this.

Then, get these to keep my hands toasty and lively. Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

What a joy it is to share the joy of bikes

That's my dad on the right. I don't know who the other people in the picture are.
My dad is, and has long been, a big fat guy. As a youth, I appreciated this quality, because I could playfully punch his belly with surprising force, and he never minded. As an adult, I have mostly been agnostic about my father's rotundity. Sure, I suppose that I'd like him to be in better health, since I want him to live longer, prosper, &c. But realistically, I'm more concerned with getting him to keep a job, manage his money properly, and close his mouth while chewing. (And frankly, I'm not that concerned with any of it. He lives far away, so I don't see him enough to be irked by his faults, but thanks to this modern interweb technology, and the telephone, I get to talk to him a lot, which makes me happy because he is a smart, funny guy.)

Lately, however, my dad has started to do things to slim down and improve his health, and I am delighted. Not because of the possibility for more productive years (he hasn't had one of those in ages), but because he sold his car, bought a bike, and is always conferring with me on two-wheeled matters.

Luckily for my dad, he lives in Portland, Ore., where they practically hit you with sticks if you don't ride a bike, and where public transportation exists and warmly embraces two-wheeled multi-modality. So he went to his local bike shop and they set him up with a used mountain bike outfitted for city riding: Riser bars, slick tires, fenders (a must in the rainy Northwest), etc., and my dad sprung for a Brooks saddle. Now he tells me every day about his latest triumph of mileage, as he does more and more of his commute on the bike and less and less on the train. For his birthday, I am sending him a little must-have kit for basic maintenance: Pump, patch kit, spare tube, tire levers, multi-tool, chain lube, wedge bag to carry stuff, and one of these, because, you know, Brooklyn represent. I almost can't wait to go visit him so I can give his bike a once-over and get more good gift ideas. It's nice. That is all. Read more!

State of the snow

This is not recent snow.

I'm a huge fan of Jill Homer's Up in Alaska blog. I think she's a terrific writer and an inspiring and talented athlete. She also reminds me that the winter in Connecticut is lame and manageable. So, when I think about driving to work, I remember that unless I carrying a large load or am injured, I've got it easy and should ride.

She spends much of her time riding around on the snow, because that's how it is in Alaska, so I also feel that I must continue mountain biking even when the ground is covered. I must admit that I'm totally baffled as to how she rides in deep snow. I went up to the reservoir yesterday and had a hell of time getting around. My singlespeed has 2.3"s and I was doing a lot of walking. This snow has had lots of time to compress and harden, but it's still pretty impassable. I suppose the Pugsley that Ms. Homer rides probably has those 3.7" Endomorphs. However, you'd think that lame Connecticut snow would be rideable with tires that are two thirds the size of Alaska-worthy tires.

So, anyway, that's the best I could do for a post today... How about the decriminalization of marijuana? Read more!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Parking.... or be careful what you ask for!

I am now living in the Conch Republic, better known as Key West. Yes, technically it is in Florida, but the vibe and architecture is certainly far more Bahamian than American. Moving here after a dozen and a half visits over the last 10 years is a dream come true. The friendly people, the amazing weather, the island's charming general weirdness and the amount of bicycles have drawn me here year after year. So, how's living in a bicycle centric city!?

Lemme tell you, Portland and Berkley ain’t got nuttin’ on the bicycles here. Many people don’t even own a car to get around the four by two mile island. Bicycles, racks, pedi-cabs and trikes are everywhere! Unfortunately, this can actually be a problem when trying to get to work on time. My first waiting job ever is at the Turtle Kraals, right on the water at Key West Bight Marina; and finding bicycle parking at 10AM can be hard!

Here’s the restaurant’s employee only bicycle parking! Almost full! I got a spot this day!

But here’s a shot near the front of the restaurant with no less than seven actual bicycle racks completely full! Overflowing actually!

Even the giant anchor had bikes and trikes chained up to it! Dang! It's not even a bike rack!

This shot is for el presidente de china. Folding bicycles are actually super popular here. And the biggest retailer for such steeds? West Marine, a boating supply store! Why? Many live-aboard sailboats are anchored off shore and the owners will float in on a dingy with their folding bike and then use it to get to work, run errands around town or get to the bar. (or prolly a combo of all three) Now, that's a sweet multimodal commute!

There are many, many sweet rides all over the city and I’ll be posting more pics as soon as I can. There are mostly single speed beach cruisers, but also many mountain bikes with wide slicks. In the mean time, check out Conchscooter's blog, Key West Diary for two recent posts about bicycles: Duval Bikes and More Duval bikes. Great posts!

I met a dude who rides old school fixed gears, I mean OLD school as in pre-1900, but haven’t seen any of his rides yet! I hope to soon. I am told there’s a dude on a blue track bike too, but I haven’t met him or his bike yet. And that’s is for fixies! TJ, come visit and bring the Steamroller!

Its super convenient and really fresh to be in a town where the bicycle is truly the preferred way to scoot around town! Life is good! Ride on!

ps. there ain't no mo' to read!

Read more!

My last snowy post!

Here is my last post involving snow and ice for many months, my apologies on its tardiness, I’m on island time now!

Here I am on Krash’s back porch ready for a fun, slippery ride one cold night back in late December. Yep, that’s me, my bike and lots of snow encrusting my tires. yummy! The riding that night was mostly fun, except when there was a car on your ass on a narrowly plowed road with thoughts of getting run-overed trumping simple thoughts like just falling down. Away from the fright of immediate death due to cars and trucks on the slick streets, riding was actually a lot of fun, especially on a brakeless fixie. Fun indeed.

Riding in the middle of a massive snowstorm does have its advantages…like instant bike racks everywhere, just dismount your bike and put it in the deep snow! Krash and I chillin’ on the Founders Bridge a few minutes after midnight. I don’t think we were even that cold.

The view of the Connecticut River and its ice flows was absolutely beautiful. Traveling and exploring in a winter wonderland, whether high in the mountains of the backcountry or on the streets of the ‘beat, is always rewarding with fine views and excellent company.

Thank you Ken for all of our midnight rides and end of night sprints from Kenny’s to Columbia Street! Always a great time dude! Peace! Read more!

In Which I Continue to Hammer Away at a Point: Courant Editorial on Transit Spending

The Courant says Congress should spend more on alternatives to automobile transportation, like sea turtles (above).

This morning I rose at an ungodly hour (or, more precisely, I was rousted from bed by a two- and a four-year-old, both of whom are terrorists) and went to the grocery store as soon as it opened (7:00 a.m.). And you know what? It was really really cold out (13 degrees, according to the car's thermometer), and I did not feel bad that I was not riding my bicycle to the store. In fact, it's almost cold enough (almost!) that I would pass up the chance for a bike ride generally (the need to carry groceries and children necessitated the car this time around). Why do I tell you this, dear reader? Because I've been riding a little less lately, and that may explain why all my posts focus on news about mass transit.

Anyway, the Courant has a good editorial today, in which it points out that the coming recovery package should spend more on mass transit and not so much on building new roads. It urges the Connecticut congressional delegation to press for money to complete the New Haven-Springfield commuter line and the Hard Hittin' New Britain Busway (no mention of the BeatWater Commuterama train, but whatevs). My only hope is that the stern remonstrance of a foundering newspaper in an impoverished city will be enough to force the hand of Congress. Read more!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

CRCOG, Grrrrr!

Above: The proposed Hard-Hittin' New Britain Busway.

Damn it, Capitol [sic] Region Coalition Of Governments! I want to hate you because your name misspells Capital and you never responded to my (very polite) e-mail about that matter, but I find I have no choice but to love you because you are so sensible!

Case in point, your Exexutive Executive* Director, Lyle "Fay" Wray, has a lovely op-ed piece in the Courant today about New Haven-Springfield commuter service and the (Hard Hittin') New Britain Busway. Wray points out that the existence of one big mass transit project doesn't mean others should wait in line, tacitly responding to recent comments by DOT Commissioner Joseph "Sault Sainte" Marie, who was cool to the BeatWater Commuterama train (Hartford to Waterbury) because the Springfield-New Haven line and the busway are in the pipe. Although he favors the busway over the BeatWater train, Wray rightly points out that all these projects serve different needs and will benefit the region in different ways (he enumerates these in the op-ed piece, but leaves out the fact that commuter rail service along the I-91 corridor could greatly reduce the incidence of agency commissioners picking up DUIs).

So good work, Sugar Wray. Now can we please talk about the Capitol/Capital distinction?

* Just as I was grousing about the misspelling in CRCOG's name, I included a misspelling (or, really, a typo - they are not the same thing) in referring to its chief. A commenter took me to task (gently) and I corrected it, but in the interest of transparency, I am making my earlier error manifest. Read more!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Heat Wave!!

Ok so maybe its not really a heat wave but compared to the last few weeks its feels almost tropical outside. Not much else of consequence in this post but I just want to say I hope everyone is taking advantage of the brief thaw to get out on your bikes. If the last few weeks of arctic temperatures were enough to keep you indoors or encased in steel on your commute to work, school, etc., today is the perfect day to get back out on your two-wheeled steeds and get the blood flowing again. It'll be nice to head out and not have to wear bulky (although pretty sweet) mittens, a facemask, and tights under my pants just to keep from going hypothermic. Might even be a nice night for an impromptu bike pub tour. Long story short, if you didn't plan on riding today, do so, as weather like this must be appreciated in January. Read more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bikes on Planes

First, I have to apologize not getting any pics of my fixie up on the blog. It is running great. I love the performance in snow, I love the elegant look, the quiet ride, and I love the durability. I am now shopping for digital cameras, so I hope to share pictures soon.

I have two work-related trips to South Carolina coming up, and I want to have my bicycle down there to get around. For the March trip, I've decided to load up my recently purchased (1974 good condition) slide-in truck camper (six pack heaven!) and trundle down to Myrtle Beach with my bicycle inside. For my February trip, I can't avoid the more boring option of flying down and staying in a hotel.

Question: How feasible is it to take my bike apart, put it in a bike box from a bike shop, check it as luggage, reassemble in the airport, and merrily ride away? Has anyone ever done this? Short of stealing El Prez's hard-earned Xootr Swift, what are my options?

Please use the comments section to share experience traveling with a bicycle. Read more!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Train Service to the Dirty Water? Yes Please!

Yesterday, a couple of Connecticut lawmakers said there should be commuter rail service between Hartford and Waterbury. Could I agree with them more? The answer is no. It's not that I love visiting the Dirty Water so much (I don't), or that I am frequently flummoxed by congestion on I-84 west of Hartford (I am not), but what I do love is having a rail connection to other parts of the state that is not in the avaricious grasp of Amtrak. If there were a train to Waterbury, you could go there and take Metro North to Bridgeport or New York or anywhere else on the shore, which would advance immeasurably the cause of freedom.

Naturally, the first response from the Commissioner of the State Transportation Department was to urge patience, caution, and other behaviors of dubious usefulness. He says we're already working on a New Haven-Springfield commuter rail link and the Hartford-New Britain busway, so we can't go crazy with this BeatWater project. (Because the last thing we want is adequte public transportation all over the state, all at once!) Of course, in real life we're not "working on" the New Haven-Springfield thing so much as we're deadlocked with stupid Amtrak over the use of its rails. So what the Commissioner should do is go to Amtrak, grab them by their fat heads, and say, "If you don't make me an offer I like on the use of your stupid rails, I will deal with some freight company, create a link to Waterbury, and steal away from you all of your coveted business between Hartford and New York!" That would be the way to show them what's up. (Except it wouldn't work at all because they're clearly not motivated by good sense or profit, so maybe he should tell the folks at Amtrak that they should help the Springfield-New Haven project go forward because it will help them be better at volleyball.)

I guess what I am saying is that any project that connects Hartford to the world via public transportation and simultaneously connects Amtrak to fuck you via deez nuts is OK in my book. Call your legislator or your governor or Santa Claus and tell them you support the BeatWater Commuterama.

So, after writing this post, I read Rick Green's column, in which he says that the Commissioner of DOT, Joseph Marie, is a super-champion of rail transportation and bike-friendliness and helping old ladies cross the street. So maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt and suppose there's a good reason he's so cool to the BeatWater Commuterama. I mean, is there a good reason to oppose the project? I (foolishly) looked at the comments on the Courant's website, and the posters who oppose the project don't offer much that's coherent (awesomest nonsensical argument: the commuter line would only be used by unemployed people anyway, so let's not build it). What do you say, dear readers? Read more!

In Which Your Humble Correspondent Falls on the Ice

I don't mind ice and snow, really. I am tough and hearty and young, and laugh at danger and adversity, so things that cause me discomfort are useful for the reinforcement of my self image. To that end, I endeavored yesterday to ride my Xootr from New Haven to Milford. Not only did I endeavor, but I was, in fact, successful, and realized the feat in a suit, arriving to a morning meeting on time and looking dapper. Unfortunately, this otherwise perfect inauguration day sojourn was marred by the inconsiderate behavior of a motorist. I was next to said horseless-carriage operator at the corner of Bridgeport Avenue and Schoolhouse Road, waiting on a red light. The vehicle to my left, a gold-colored SUV of some sort, did not have its turn indicator light illuminated, leading me to believe that the operator's intention was to proceed straight in a westerly direction. In fact, when the light turned green, the operator executed a right turn across my path, causing me to apply my brakes with improvident force, which, in turn, resulted in my falling upon the ice, cursing extensively, and shaking my fist (really! just like in silent movies when something bad happens to someone hapless) at the oblivious driver.

What is the moral of this story? On the one hand, studded tires might have helped. On the other hand, when we blame the bicyclist for the failures of the motorist, the terrorists win. So I don't know that there is a moral, aside from that it is always a good idea to check your mirrors before turning your automobile, even when you are in the right lane on Route 1 at 8:00 a.m. on a day too cold for any sensible person to be astride his bicycle.

Also, bike tires going through a thin layer of light snow make a cool sound which reminds me of the sound my feet make in the firmly packed, semi-damp sand of certain Oregon beaches. If you have an opportunity to hear this sound, either by strolling along the Oregon coast or biking in light snow on a cold morning, I strongly recommend you take it. Just watch out for turning SUVs. (Below, thanks to the magic of MS Paint, I have created a handy illustration to help you understand the bike-tires-in-snow / bare-feet-in-sand similarity. I do this as a service to those of our readers who are visual learners, and also because I like blog posts better when they are accompanied by a photograph.)

Read more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This Great Nation of Ours; Concerning my Recent Travels Therein

As we approach the historic inauguration of our nation's 44th white president, the populace is feeling a great absence, a great need for enlightenment though reasoned discourse. I refer, of course, to my own recent absence from the blog-o-dome (not to be confused with the Blago-dome). Since the last week in December, I've been all over the damn place, with a weekend in New York (blissfully sans children), a couple of weekends in Boston (less-blissfully avec in-laws) and a marvelous week of vacation in San Francisco and Berkeley, where people are so civilized and sensible that they don't allow the temperature to get below 40 degrees fahrenheit.

Happily, I was able to bring the ol' Xootr to Boston and get in some quality blizzard riding, but there was no possibility of bringing it to the Bay Area (two kids + two adults = two suitcases and carry-ons, so no extra hardshelled bike suitcase). That said, being in San Francisco was eye-opening for me: Cities really can be totally bike-friendly! Really, it's more than that: We were walking through Golden Gate Park and came upon a municipal frisbee golf course (for real!), and I had an epiphany about how local government operates in east coast cities and how it operates in S.F. Over here, even the most progressive, forward-looking government initiatives come about only because of a well-organized campaign by some subset of the population. There is nothing wrong with this - it's democracy in action - but it establishes a certain limit: governments don't go looking for cool shit to do because they can; they aim to please political groups with influence (except Luis Cotto - that guy is hardwired for awesomeness and you should vote for him in the Advocate's Best of Hartford poll as best politician). But I'm pretty confident that even in uber-nerdy San Fran, the frisbee golfers don't have much juice in the corridors of power. I think someone in their Parks and Recreation department just said, "Hey, I have seen the dot-communists playing this game. Let's make a course for it, but we'll call it 'Disc Golf' to avoid trademark issues." That's because their government just does good stuff. Case in point (to return from a lengthy digression): bike-friendliness. Everywhere there are bike lanes. In Berkeley, they even have "Bike Boulevards" (pictured above), which are streets that run parallel to main drags where bike may take the whole lane and are generally favored over cars (sort of like those weird West Hartford power-up things, except for real). People bring bikes on the BART (which is the bay area way of saying "subway") all the time, to the point where the emergency evacuation instructions remind people to leave their bikes behind in case of train evacuation (unless, presumably, your bike is one of these). I noticed cares yielding to bikes in a manner I found downright stunning - they were actually, truly cautious and deferential. Anyway, I wish I woulda had my bike there, but having my wife and kids there instead was a fair trade-off. Here are some photos from my recent meanderings:

If I lived on the hill my sister-in-law lives on in S.F., I would be the strongest bike rider in the whole world.

A bike boulevard in Berkeley.

This ain't no Bay Area! It's bike-friendly Cambridge, Mass., which is like Berkeley with snow and funny accents.

Bike parking at the North Berkeley BART station. Click for larger image. Read more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


It's cold and not fun to ride a bike today.

So, try this instead: My high score is 86467 94653 101582, which apparently is not very good.
Read more!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The John Boehner Tonic

I wonder if he rides the "Portland" so he can always be representing his district.

After Sunday's ire-inducing Face the Nation interview with John Boehner and the ire still smoldering with Will's post yesterday, I thought it'd be nice to post a link to an article in today's Times about Earl Blumenauer. It's repleat with such feel good quotes as this one from former Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert: "Bicycling unites people regardless of party affiliation". It's nice to think that Rep. Blumenauer is in the majority at this point while we're at the brink of a giant pork-barrel spending bill.

ed. note: Why do all these bike proponents and opponents have e's place in funny spots all over their last names?
2nd ed. note: I'm sure we're all also sad that Rep. Blumenauer didn't become Secretary of Transportation.


Also, how come bike tires wear out after 3,000-5,000 miles while car tires go for 30,000-50,000? Bike tires are not 1/10 the price of car tires. This seems unfair.
Read more!

Monday, January 12, 2009

bike paths are a waste of money and shouldn't be part of an economic stimulus

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was on Face the Nation Sunday morning and had some thoughts about the need to quickly pass a "responsible" stimulus plan. Here's a link to a story on the

“I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?” He stated. “But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

I am an American and i am not looking kindly on the idea of widening highways during oil wars and impending depression while also disregarding bicycles as transportation. The irony is killing me. Its it that crazy of an idea to the federal powers that bicycles are freakin' transportation?!?! Widening highways would cause more problems than it would solve and eventually that solved problem will only be the same problem but bigger and wider!

and here's another similar situation, check out this post on about a bike path near Washington DC that is not being built, but a 6 lane highway will be built!

Anyways, shoupy gave me a heads up in this along with with Rep. Boehner's contact info.

We wrote him, you should to! Post a copy of your letters in the comments.

ps. By the way, "...widen highways, to ease congestion for American families?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? I didn't watch the news last night, or the night before, but did I miss some big story about the new biggest threat to our family life as we know it like: Millions of American families suffer congestion due to skinny at 11.

pps...don't read more....WRITE MORE! give 'em a piece of your mind!

. Read more!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Critical Mass. Hartford, Dec 2008. The Holiday Ride!

LL Cool J said it best....I can't live without my radio!

Well, better late than never! Friday night...a few weeks back...was awesome! We had a real winter Critical Mass ride complete with lights, decorations and holiday music. It was great to see so many familiar faces as well as some new blood out to ride around the city. The weather may have been cold, but the ride was hot! Lots of people decorated their bikes with colorful lights, glow sticks and light-up santas. I am sure it was the largest ride yet in the winter months. There was a UConn game at the Civic Center (yes, i still call it that) and of course all the traffic that goes with it.

The boombox was blasting mostly punk and reggae covers of Christmas music. I found a few Chanukah and Kwanzaa songs on itunes and threw in the Ramones' version of "its a Wonderful World" just to round things out. Many people cheered, smiled and laughed as we did laps through the area.

We also rode to Constitution Plaza and around the decorative lights and Christmas trees up there. And all got separated for a while when leaving, until reuniting and enjoying more of the crowded downtown streets.

Eventually we headed down Asylum Avenue towards West Hartford and made it to Woodland Street when we found out someone needed a chaintool back at Bushnell Park. In the holiday spirit the whole ride made a 180 and sped back to save the day. We did several more loops around the Civic Center while repairs were made. Ya know... i might have some chronology wrong here; but just the same, it was a wonderful ride. Everyone was super friendly, sharing tools and libations and ideas for next year's ride. Thank you to everyone to braved the cold and helped make Hartford a brighter place! Wooo-haaaa!

Marylynn is always dressed for the occasion!

Chris laughed in the face of death with his lights. and looked cool doing it!

Coreylynn was rocking two peace signs radiating good vibes in all four directions.

What happened next? What bar did we go to? Want to see the neked group shot?

click READ MORE!


Did i say neked? I meant natural light...I didn't use my flash! Sorry for any confusion.

We decided to ride to the Spigot and took the scenic route on Park Street for most of the way.

Brendan, is that your cable looking up my boom box along with the bikes? Thanks dude, good looking out!

And more photos here from Caresse!

Read more!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cool stuff for the weekend


This isn't a bike thing, but not everything has to be a bike thing. Well, I guess this could be a bike thing could be because these Joe and Joel ride their bikes to their studio, anyway...

This is a reminder and invitation to the first monthly (Dodec-Ennial)
CATALOGUE show at:

56 Arbor Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Suite 216 (second floor)

When: Saturday, January 10, 2009 from 6pm-9pm

Jamie Horgan, the until-recently-Hartford-Art-
will be showing a few of his recent and on-going drawings for our January
installment. CATALOGUE will take place each month, showcasing an
individual, a collaboration, an instillation, and/or funny joke, and is
hosted by Joel VanderKamp and Joe Saphire.

The studio is located at the front of the building (Real Art Ways is in
back). If you need directions or have questions, please contact:

Joe: 860.216.3826
Joel: 773.259.2669

Please pass this invitation to those who might be interested and we might
have missed.

Joe Saphire
Joel VanderKamp

Gadabout Sam Mckinniss writes more eloquently about it on his blog.


Also, anyone want to go mountain biking with me this weekend?

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vote for us

The best around!

Just a little plug here.

The 2009 Advocate Readers' Poll is online. If you have a minute, vote for us for best blog. It's under "See & Be Scene". Read more!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rocking the Lobstah'

When the colonials came to this country they found lobsters up to six feet tall!

So as with most things when I think about purchasing new things I try to minimize my environmental impact. This results in buying less and buying things that are supremely functional and encourage good behaviors. This usually means that I have exponentially less issue buying things for bike commuting that have the potential to make my rides more comfortable, or less likely to be derailed by inclement weather. Such it was as the temperature started to drop as we inched into the depths of winter through December. As I found my fingers starting to get wicked cold I searched out new gloves. I tried my ski gloves but these were bulky and awkward on the bike and made riding quite uncomfortable. They also were not as warm as I had hoped as the windchill really started to show itself above about 15mph. I thought about mittens as I prefer them to gloves for their absolute warmth and comfy feel, however they would reduce my ability to operate the brakes which I consider an important aspect of stopping on the geared bicycle I use for commuting (as can be found here).

After this I remembered seeing some sweet lobster gloves designed for riding made by Pearl Izumi....

These gloves balance the functionality of gloves and the warmth of mittens. They are wind and waterproof and they also have nice reflective piping and a super soft snot spot on both thumbs which is a nice feature for cleaning up after the inevitable cold weather snot rockets. I bought them and so far i'm enjoying them. They are perfectly warm below about 25 degrees where is around where my other gloves start to get chilly. On the downside the cuffs are on the tight side so they don't ventilate well when its warmer so in some occasions my hands really overheat. I'm thinking about modifying them by surgically removing some of the elastic around the wrists but don't want to wreck them.

I think having warm hands has to be the most important part of winter commuting. Ears would have to be second, but numb ears have little to do with steering and braking the bicycle (at least personally) plus they make your hands look like ninja turtle digits, cowabunga! I think these glove mittens (glittens perhaps) are a justified purchase. So with that said how are all you winter commuters making out so far and what have you added to your gear closet to make your rides easier? Hasn't been too mean of a winter but its always a challenge to head out and ride when its nasty out.

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When is it not worth it?

I would definitely stop riding if I had to ride this thing.

The venerable Bikesnob NYC once queried about what would make a cyclist stop riding. He mostly wrote about what sorts of absurd bikes or outfits would stop you from riding. There are some doozies in there, but he doesn't write about the biggest riding-preventer out there: the weather.

Here is some bad Canadian weather.

It's really, really gross today. It iced all night and now it's raining. As I passed the Institute of Living, a place for reflection, I wondered what the hell I was doing. It was wet and gross and I was riding to work. I like my job ok, but it's still a job. And there was I, plodding along on the sidewalk in ice and slush looking like a fool. Why I was I putting myself through this? This begs the question: when is it too gross to ride a bike and when is a destination not worth a gross bike ride? Read more!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The New Year, Part 2

My posts are generally narcissistic, like yesterday's. I was gonna do that again today and write about the ride I took last night. But, in a moment of clarity, I remembered that this blog isn't just about me. Hell, there are a bunch of other bloggers who write way more interesting and funny than me all the time. Instead, I thought about the direction of the beat bike blog as it enters a new year. Our founder and most chillest blogger, Will, has left for beautiful environs of Key West. Does that leave us without keel for '09? Probably. So, what now? In 2008, we wrote about a bunch of stuff, but also did some stuff, including, but not limited to:

  • 2 races
  • cleaning up the river
  • making critical mass a more viable thing in Hartford
  • making critical mass not a nasty and contentious thing like it is in most other cities
  • garnering press support (???)
  • some other stuff that I'm probably forgetting
What should 2009 be about? Loyal reader(s), please tell us. Should we put together some more Hartford races? I'm definitely going to work on the 'cross race, but that's more a CCBA thing. Should we do something to promote more bike commuting? Should we raise money for a bike related cause? Should we start a trips for kids mountain biking program? Should we do something to get more youth involved with the whole riding a bike thing? Should we do none of that and reform are image into something cooler and angrier?

We're adrift! Please help!
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Monday, January 5, 2009

The New Year

I hate that Death Cab for Cutie song called "The New Year".

So, we're deep into 2009 and there hasn't been a post yet, so I guess I'll put something up. I haven't been doing much bike related lately. I put some studded Nokians on my Stumpjumper and rode it around in the snow some. The tires actually work pretty well on snowy things, though it seems that you can't ride in snow that's deeper than like 4" or 5". That seems pretty acceptable, though. The bike has rim brakes and they're pretty unacceptable in the snow.

I also have two bicycle related resolutions, or maybe they're goals.

1) Ride the D2R2.
I know that randoneuring is usually for people with helmet mirrors, but it also seems really difficult. So, I'm going to do the 108 mile edition of the D2R2.

2) Make a 'cross race happen in Hartford.
I put the bug in Ben Bare's ear for him to bring it up at the last Bike Everywhere and Jay and some others seem genuiely interested. I hope for Keney park, but most other people seem to want to do it at Riverside Park. Doesn't really matter to me as long as it happens.


Anybody else got cool ideas and plans for 2009? Read more!