Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Koi update

In case you were worried, the koi in the Bushnell Park pond survived the winter and are just as large as ever.

Also... don't forget this Thursday!!!

Pause for a Cause with HartBeat THIS Thursday

On April 2nd, Councilman Luis Cotto (WFP), the council’s arts champion, will turn City Hall into a dance hall. The evening’s festivities will benefit HartBeat Ensemble.

“City Hall is such a beautiful building. I can’t wait to see DJ 45 (Jon Eastman) turn the place out,” says Councilman Cotto, “If it's fun and people like it...we'll do it again, and again, and again.”

Cotto is a first term member of Hartford’s Court of Common. Chairing the Public Works, Park and Environment committee, he has sought to reinvigorate the arts through successfully pressing for the full-time staffing the Office of Cultural Affairs and the restarting of the City’s Cultural Affairs commission. Cotto’s “Pause for a Cause” is a collaborative initiative aimed at benefitting various Hartford community based organizations via no-cost or low-cost fun events throughout the City.

April 2, City Hall @ 7pm
Admission: $10 / $5 Lets Go Arts members - But don't let that stop you. Feel free to pay
what you can.

Read more!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tax dollars at work

Obviously, we here at the beat bike blog are far too skilled and extreme to ever ride on rail trails. We're not so skilled and extreme that we don't pay income tax, however. In some news that makes me glad, it appears that some Federal DOT stimulus money is going to central Connecticut rail trail improvement and expansion. Here's the article in today's Courant.

ps. We actually do use rail trails and bike paths. I'm kidding!
pps. Photo credit goes to our friend Heather Brandon at urbancompass.net. I hope she doesn't get mad that I stole her picture.
ppps. Johanna and I went to DC this weekend. No scuba diving in the Potomac:

Read more!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Being the photographic highlights of two recent bicycle sojourns

As mentioned below, I recently had the singular pleasure of an early-morning jaunt to the storied, airport-dominated burgh of Windsor Locks (rap name: Windzor Loc), which I followed a day later with the return trip. Upon both occasions, I snapped some photographs, four of which I offer below for your perusal, dear reader. As always, if you click directly upon a photo, you will be rewarded with a larger, more sumptuous view.

Best. Street name. Ever.
Best. Street name. Ever. (Windsor Locks)

Windsor Music Centre, Windsor, CT
I like the simple, old-timey look of this place on Poquonnock Ave.

Florist Shop, Windsor, CT
Something else old-timey-looking. (Windsor)

Morning Fog, Bloomfield, CT
At the right hour of the morning, Bloomfield can look way more romantic and mysterious than it really is. Read more!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Adventures in carlessness

The unending misery of a perennially broken car

As those who know me know, car ownership has of late become my bete noir. First, my beloved old Corolla gave up the ghost. Then I shopped forever trying to replace it cheaply. Then, when I finally pulled the trigger on an '01 Ford Focus, it proved to be a lemon, except not in the sense of being covered by Connecticut's Lemon Law (which wouldn't cover any car I would buy 'cause I'm not spending enough money), but in the sense of spending more time in the shop than out. I got it out of the shop in Middletown and drove to Stratford, where it had issues. So I pushed it across Route 1 to a shop in Stratford, and got it out a few days later. From there, it got as far as Meriden before the engine died (there it is in the picture above, about to be winched onto a flatbed tow truck). So now I have a useless, non-running Focus and have spent enough money that I can't afford to get another car until such time as I get the guy who sold it to me to buy it back (probably with the assistance of small claims court). Which brings me to today's topic: carlessness.

In many places and for many people, carlessness is not a big deal. Shoot, I didn't even get my license till I was 24, so I know as well as anyone. But when you live in the nutmeg state, and especially when you live in W. Hartford but work in Bridgeport, the car becomes an issue. Now, I love taking the train as much as anyone, maybe more, but that ish is spendy, especially if my schedule forces me to take one of the more expensive Amtrak trains (inexplicably, the same trip between Hartford and New Haven can range in cost from $11 to $19, and it's not based on rush hours or anything so logical). Like today, I had to be in New Haven at 9:00, then down to the Bridge, then back to New Haven from 5:00 to 7:30. Naturally, once you're in New Haven past 5:15 p.m., there's no train until 8:30, and that train costs $19. Add the $11 to take the train down in the morning and the $6 round trip from Elm City to Park City on Metro-North, and you're up to $36. That's a lot of cheddar for a debt-saddled public interest lawyer to fork out.

So I headed over to priceline.com and secured a car for $24 for the day. The only problem? There are only two places in Conn. where priceline can get you rental cars: Bradley and Tweed. So for the convenience and savings of a car today, I had to ride my bike fifteen miles to the airport in the morning. And you know what? It was pretty awesome!

It was just about 50 degrees when I hit the road at 6:30, which is a fabulous temperature for riding. Dawn was stretching rosy fingers across the sky, there was awesome, spooky mist everywhere, and Windsor is actually a lovely place to ride. AND, I am now pushing a pimpin' (by my standards) red Subaru Impreza four-door (with the coveted Rhode Island plates!) for the rest of the day.

I just might start renting cars on the regular. (I'll have to see how low of a per-day price I can swing on priceline. $8, maybe?) A car and a brisk 15-mile-ride for less than the cost of a round trip on Amtrak? Yes, please. (Also, why is Amtrak so expensive? Why? They should do a sliding scale or name-your-price like priceline does. I mean, the trains are never full, so they may as well sell those seats for a cut rate, right? Right?! Right.)

(Or, here's an even better idea: You know how there's lately been a little to-do about how white collar workers at GM get free cars and free gas, which are, you know, paid for by the taxpayers and all that? GM has responded by saying that the employees provide valuable feedback, to which I say the following: Let me use the car, I will give you lots of feedback, and you won't have this problem because I am not the recipient of federal bailout money. Seriously, GM, are you hearing me? I will drive any car you give me with a full gas tank. I will drive carefully. I will review every feature. Do you want me to try out the cruise control? I do not generally like cruise control, but for you, I will do it. Do you want me to drive the speed limit? I will even do that for you. SUVs; compacts; station wagons; it ain't no thing. I live to serve. Because you know what? In the immortal words of Phife from A Tribe Called Quest, "riding on the train with no dough sucks.")

(You know what doesn't suck, though? Parenthetical digressions.)

(Oh, one last thing: Xootr should bill their Swift Folder as the best bike to buy if you have an unreliable car or no car at all. Mine has been a huge help in all this: it goes on the train, it carried me to the airport, it carried me back from Middletown after I had the Focus towed there from Meriden. God bless that sturdy little bike.) Read more!

Summer Employment

This is recreation in another state.

This is barely related to riding a bike in Hartford, but...

The City of Hartford is hiring part-time recreation assistants for the summer. You have to live in Hartford and apply soon. Hanging out in a park all summer sounds a lot better than being parked at my desk. Read more!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Space Shuttle is in town! and other weirdness

Last Friday I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be the Space Shuttle driving down Duval Street. The spacecraft was a little smaller than expected; but the tailfin and color scheme is pretty dang recognizable. It must have been it, but I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough; that thing is a freakin’ rocket ya know. A few hours later I took the above picture, catching the ship moments after it safely sopped at a stop sign and continued along down South Street. I did see the Space Shuttle…I did! I did!

Houston, we have contact! I saw the Space Shuttle again, at 12:00, heading straight for me with nothing more than a mere double yellow line separating us from a deadly head-on collision! I quickly pulled over and parked my pedicab and snapped a few photos as the ship slowed and stopped next to me. The pilot said he saw me snapping photos earlier and asked if I wanted a postcard. Hells yeah! Nice people.

I learned that the Shuttlevan hangers in Texas and was built to celebrate 25 years of flight. There’s even a 1,700 watt fog production machine! Check the website!

Six or Seven years ago I was riding my bicycle down Greene Street and strangely heard a piano approaching me from behind. I turned to see a man in the middle of the street alternately pushing a piano on wheels from behind and then playing it from the side as it rolled. I took a quick photo and have never forgotten the sight. I have no idea of the what and the why. A few days ago I saw what must be the same guy and the same piano on Duval! He wasn’t playing it this time, only pushing it down the street. I love this town.

I saw these two Konas with crazy camo tires one night after sloppyhour. Pretty sweet.

Another wonderful night at the parrot. John’s singlespeed and my fixie. Let the revolution begin!

Want more photos? More bicycles? Want to see the newest fixie on the island, built just days ago? And welcome a new Surly to the neighborhood, a sweet Traveler’s Check? Click on read more and enjoy more bikeporn my dear blog reader(s).

Eddie, dayshift manager of Perfect Pedicab, just finished building his first fixie. Its got some aggressive geometry and begs to be ridden fast. Great job dude! Get some straps already!

And Eddie’s the very proud new owner of a Surly Traveler’s Check. He travels a lot and enjoys bringing a bike along for transportation and adventure. I think he's also doing some kind of hypnotism shit with his eyes too.

Another sexy shot of the frame in detachment action. 

This man rides around town on his trike pulling a trailer and sells mangos, coconuts, avacados and other yummies. Roy stopped him the other night infront of our apartments for a few tomatoes.

The funny thing is that the tongue weight of the trailer causes the trike to do a wheelie whenever he dismounts. Pretty funny scene every time I see him.
Read more!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bikes and the ladies

It's a shortcoming of our blog that none of the writers are women. I don't think this is so much because we've actively tried to exclude anyone, but more because our blog isn't very good so no women have any interest. Maybe I'm wrong. Who knows? If you're a bike riding woman and want to write about it, sent us an email. It would definitely make things better.

Anyway, that's not what is actively vexing me. It's women trying to buy bikes. I'm going to relate some anecdotes and keep things strictly anonymous.

Some women I know have tried to buy bikes in bike shops. Instead of wandering around the the bike shop in peace and staring at bikes, the bike salesmen walk with them and ask them vague and strange misleading questions about what kind of riding they want to do and talk about the length of their arms and legs and torsos and hair and other unrelated things. This seems to invariably lead the salesmen to think that these women I know need to purchase nerdy hybrids.

When I go into a bike shop, none of these questions are asked and nobody comments about the length of my body parts. I wander around and sometimes take a bike of my choosing out into the parking lot. Nothing about me suggests that I'm a guy that knows anything about bicycles.

These weird disparities and general weirdness lead the women I know to be fearful bicycles and think that there are all these weird restrictions. They're also uncomfortable in bike shops. This doesn't have to be.

I am all for bikes fitting people correctly, but that should be something that happens towards the end of a sale- not first. Let everyone browse and let people gravitate towards whatever they want. Just because some says they might ride on the road and might ride off of it in no way means they want to ride a hybrid. Riding a hybrid is no fun anywhere. That's why the world's garages are filled with hybrids that no one rides. Further, if you posed the question of where I want to ride to me, I'd answer that I want to ride on the road sometimes and not other times. I certainly don't want to buy a hybrid. Why oh why do the world's salespeople think it's a great idea to sell women weird things that they don't want? Read more!

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Parking

I'll admit it's not the most fascinating news, but the parking lot at the West Hartford reservoir has changed. The big dirt parking lot is closed. Instead, when entering through the main entrance, parking is off to the left in a nice new paved lot. It has plantings and benches- the whole nine yards. I'm not sure what effects this has had on our water bills, but I don't mind spending a little bit more on nice benches. The trails, including the paved loop, haven't changed at all. Anyone else have an experience with the new lot? What do you think? Pretty nice, huh?

I discovered this when I decided to do a late afternoon loop of the reservoir. I'm uncertain as to why I decided to do this after the mini-epic of Glastonbury, Portland, and East Hampton with Salem (Eel #1 winner) and the 2009 Biking Vikings. Cool dirt roads over there. Read more!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wheel Truing: Broken Spokes and Broken Hearts

This is not my wheel as Webshots currently won't allow my pictures to load into the blog!!

So I picked up a new road bike recently. Due to its low price I overruled many of its mechanical shortfalls figuring I could fix, swap, or modify its existing parts to get it back on the road. These maladies include a broken front brake lever/shifter, a slightly bent crankarm, and two wheels way out of true. The Campy shifter I intend to swap out for either equivalent Shimano parts or convert to downtube shifters (its 8spd Chorus which I hear is difficult to come by or outrageously expensive on Ebay). The crankarm I bent right back into line with an adjustable wrench. The wheels, however, required both skills and equipment that I yet possess.

Despite the poor condition of the wheels (being out of true is a bit of an understatement, perhaps absolutely false would be a more sufficient term, particularly for the rear wheel) they did not deter my enthusiasm to remedy the situation on my own accord. Regardless of the fact that I simply do not have the funds to have the job done professionally, I gain a certain amount of pride from maintaining and fixing my bicycles myself. I have a friend who owns a truing stand, and armed with a bit of internet-gained knowledge and a basic knack for the mechanical I set out last week to straighten up the new rims. A little overexcited about taking a hack at this new skill I foolishly brought just the wheels over to said friend's place and left the bike at home. After about a half hour of tinkering I had the front wheel spinning straight and true, success! I felt confident about the whole process and enthusiastically set the rear wheel in the stand to straighten it up. It was clear that this next step would be nothing like fixing the front wheel! The wheel looked more like a pretzel than something you'd place on your bike and the rim deviated left to right as much as a centimeter in each direction! After about an hour of cursing, sweating, twisting, and turning, I got the wheel spinning reasonably straight (good enough for my purposes at least). I took my wheels home feeling confident that I would have the bike rolling in no time.

Wrong. Turns out that while the wheels where true they were not dished correctly. The front wheel rubbed on the brake pads, slowing as they passed, while the rear wheel wouldn't even set into the dropouts due to its rubbing against the chainstays. I would have to attempt the whole process again.

Today was the day for my reattempt and I set out wheels in hand and (this time) bike on shoulder as I walked the several blocks to my buddy's place. This time I started with the troublesome rear wheel working on it for about an hour to bring the dish into line and re-true it. I set it in the frame which it dropped into cleanly and I felt I had done it! A slight wobble concerned me so I took the wheel back out and set it back in the stand to clean up my work a bit. Twisting and turning I worked through the spokes tightening and loosening to bring the wheel into line. One spot, however, alluded the perfection I was looking for. I kept alternating between loosening and tightening without success, I was beginning to get frustrated. Ready to leave well enough alone I turned one more spoke to finish up when... POP!!

I froze.

I couldn't believe it. It wasn't really happening. I looked down and indeed it had. I had broken one of the troublesome spokes that I could not leave alone. Perhaps I had bottomed out the spoke and was beginning to spin it rather than tighten it, perhaps it was just too tight or the pressure not balanced well enough. Regardless, my hours of work are wasted, and the wheel was in far worse shape than before.

Not to be defeated I picked up the front wheel and set to fixing it. No more than two minutes had it dished and spinning clean, no problems.

So now what? Part of me doesn't want to be defeated while another just wants the thing fixed. A part wants to finish what I started while another doubts I possess the skill to get this wheel (I like to think maybe just this particularly disheveled wheel) back into true. Do I simply fix the spoke or start from scratch and rebuilt it with new parts, do I have a shop do this for me? Oh tortuous decisions!! What shame and disappointment! How dramatic that I feel this about a bike, though im sure im not alone here. Regardless, there will be no riding of that bike for some time to come. Very sad. Read more!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Unexpected Dryness

This is more of a question out to those who read this and mountain bike.

I know that you're not supposed to ride during the spring thaw because it makes huge ruts and ruins the trails. I respect that and in years past have stayed out of the woods for weeks this time of year. Strangely, this year it doesn't seem to be the case, though. At least in this area, we had one "thaw" day two days before the last storm when everything was really gross. The weather was nice, so some people went out and their ruts are still there. Apart from that day, though, the trails have been fine, super-solid except where there's always mud. Am I the only one noticing this? Am I going to be crucified by NEMBA for suggesting this?


I went for a ride after I wrote this post and took a picture to prove the solidity of the trail:

Second update:
I didn't go on the ride to take the picture. It's more, I went for a ride and took a picture. Read more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nalgenes are still pretty impressive

I know that everyone is switching to stainless steel water bottles and canteens now because plastic will kill you. Will gave me a stainless steel one and I find that it scratches and dents pretty easily, though I still thank him for the gift.

However, after an experience yesterday while hiking with Joel (not the one who writes for this blog, he was riding a bike) and Johanna at Peoples State Forest. I think that Nalgenes still have their place.

This bottle:

Fell off this cliff:

No damage! It even spectacularly bounced off a rock and went like 20 feet up in the air. That's actually a post cliff-fall picture of the water bottle. I'm totally impressed. Stainless would have definitely broken. Read more!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

First road ride of the year

Today's weather was the best I've seen this year in Connecticut, so I put some new tires on my road bike, gave it a lube job, and headed out for Ferry Lane in East Windsor, where a friend of mine put a kestrel box last winter. He said there is already a pair of kestrels there, but I didn't see them. Ferry Lane is a two-rut road right now, very muddy. There is a good variety of habitats for birds. Redtail hawks soared overhead on thermals, and circled down to the treetops. The leaves aren't out on the trees or in the brush yet, so it's easier to see birds and easier to see trash. There were cardinals, bluejays, and chickadees in the brush and wet areas between the main road and the river. A Red-bellied woodpecker was climbing and zipping straight lines in the trees by the river.

I spent an hour walking down here with my binoculars, just enjoying the sun and the sights and sounds of birds.

Continuing down the east side of the River, I foolishly rode route 5 the whole way to East Hartford. Main St. would probably be less traffic, but I enjoyed going at a fast clip and working on steady circles with my pedals.

The outdoor exercise complex near the founder's bridge in East Hartford is a great place to get deez and enjoy some trees. Take a break from riding to do some push-ups and pull-ups. The monkey bars are fun!

I crossed the Charter Oak bridge, rode past lots of Southenders hanging around their cars and riding scooters on Wawarme, and rode to W. Hartford on Capital. Starving, I spent way too much money at the deli/salad bar area at Whole Foods, and then rode back to Windsor via troutbrook, 218, Wintonbury Ave, Filley, and 305.

Read more!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How it all went down

On Saturday, we had The Eel 2. I don't know why it has taken me this long to post the results. Turnout was slim, but those who didn't race missed the awesomest weather/day of the year to race this year. Honest!

1) Orion - he got the money
2) Ken - he got the wine
3) Alex - he got a firm handshake
4) Chris - he got some bald eagle eggs
5) Russ & Scott - they got respect

Ken, Chris, Russ, and Scott also got the secret bonus check point that was figuring out my license plate number.

Special thanks to Johanna, Joel, Josh, and Rich for (wo)manning the checkpoints.

Brendan wants to get drunken noodles. Read more!

They Call the Wind Moriah.....

Ok, I am ready for more snow IF i can trade the snow for a brief break from the wind. Franklin Avenue is a wind tunnel on the best of days and on the worst its a screaming nightmare. It seems like I have been pounding into the wind both ways for days and days (for some reason in this crazy state the wind changes directions mid day, nuts).

Anybody know of a headwind powered mechanical assist for bikes? Maybe a ram air intake hooked up to an electrical motor? Probably wouldn't be enough to actually overcome the wind, but any little bit would help and we could probably sell a ton! Read more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We Need More Fresh New Content!

Kids today! They always want everything to be very new. In my day, we rode plodding three-speeds in which even the highest gear was essentially a climbing gear, and when we finally got somewhere, we just sipped mint juleps and read The Brothers Karamazov. Slowly. We were patient then, and easily amused.

But today's youth, with their YouTube, their rap music, their free internet pornography! They have such a short attention span and constantly crave some new stimulus. And since the Beat Bike Blog, like Wu Tang, is for the babies, we must endeavor to satisfy modern tastes. So, without further ado, I offer two recent photographs of mine, neither of which is especially good or at all relevant to the topic of bicycles or Hartford, but which may hopefully, in some small way, capture the elusive and frenetic zeitgeist of these crazy times.

Click for larger version, although there's not much you're missing with the small version

Click here for up-close American culinary ingenuity Read more!

Exuberance Can Lead To Mistakes

While the headline above is also applicable to romance and warfare, I am speaking, of course, of bicycling. In particular, I must urge that you take caution, my dear reader, lest your enthusiasm for cycling on a pleasant almost-spring evening like this one cause you to choose your route improvidently. To wit, I like riding down the steep embankment behind Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford, starting from the parking lot at the corner of Wardwell and Sedgwick, then angling across the soccer fields and taking the dark, narrow cut-through to reach Lemay Street, near the corner of Boulevard. Until recently, this route has been impassable on two wheels owing to deep snow, which substance is easily traversed on the 65-degree decline, but becomes impossible when the terrain is flat. So tonight, finding myself obliged to head to the office after the boys were in bed to print something (I have a printer, but I'll be damned if I'm going to waste my ink cartridge on 300 pages of work stuff), and cognizant of the recent thaw and near complete absence of snow, I pointed the trusty Xootr to the afforementioned traverse. What I did not anticipate is that the soccer fields are so muddy and spongy that, while I am fully able to pedal and cause the bicycle's rear wheel to revolve in the proper fashion, I am too light and my tires too narrow for any traction to occur, causing me to pedal furiously without any forward progress until such unfortunate time as I fall over. The end result: A squishy walk across a dark field, and, naturally, damp, muddy feet:

click to see larger version

Also, completely unrelatedly, two other things:

1. We held a race this past weekend, known as The Eel II. It was awesome. Some dude won, but I don't know his name, because I was just sitting in Elizabeth Park listening to This American Life and signing autographs for random cyclists.

2. I found this intriguing CD (pictured below) at the West Hartford library. Soon, I will remember to bring my library card with me so we can find out what treasures lie within.

You really must click for a larger version Read more!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eel 2 spy photos revealed!

Unnamed sources close to The Eel have leaked these photos:

Just kidding! Anyway, the weather is supposed to be awesome tomorrow. Come down to Goodwin Park at 2. $5.

We'll be over by the pond house. Read more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Awesome & not awesome

This is awesome. You can read the rest of the story here, but nothing holds a candle to the awesome picture. (Driver is ok).

It is not awesome that Brendan & Johanna's hero, Jill Homer, has had to quit the Iditarod Trail Invitational due to frostbite on her foot. She's still our hero, though. Also sad is that her roommate/boyfriend (she keeps her readers guessing), Geoff, is out of the footrace due to knee problems (and strangely not due to the horrible respiratory problem he's having). Maybe now Jill will set her sights on more sensible and warmer endeavors like winning the Leadville 100 or the Great Divide Race. Read more!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Before the snow

All weekend I was terrified about the over-hyped snow storm that showed up yesterday. Not so much because I was worried about whatever it is that makes snow storms scary and cause people to stock up on canned goods, but because it would threaten my ability to mountain bike. (Remember all those other posts about me either being self-centered or a weirdo? I wasn't lying.)

On Saturday, I only kind of wanted to go mountain biking. I could have also taken a hike. Johanna wanted to buy a cool car. At first we were going to go car hunting and then go for a hike. Johanna decided that she'd rather do some extensive research on cars instead, which paid off because she made a good offer. It subsequently was not accepted, but car dealerships are crooked anyway. So, while she did her extensive research, I hopped on the 'cross bike and went down to Rocky Hill for the reverse version of what I'd done earlier in the week. Nothing really exciting to report.

Riding back home on Fairfield, I spotted a pink purse in the road. I stopped and picked it up. There was a woman nearby in a parked car and I tapped on the window to ask if she dropped it. She shook her head and strangely reacted as if I had done the rudest possible thing. Very strange. Upon arrival in my apartment, I opened it up and found some IDs and a few bills, which I didn't count. I checked on 411.com and whitepages.com, which yielded nothing. I don't have a regular phone book, so I took the wallet with me to go the car dealership and to my parents, because they have a phone book. I found the owner, called her, and she was much relieved. She was concerned about the cash in the wallet, so I checked to see how much was left in there and it turned out to be a lot of money. She was now very, very relieved and I was glad to have found it for her. I told her my address and she came by later to pick it up.

The moral is that you should ride a bike so that you can return peoples' wallets (or shut their trunks and gas doors).

On Sunday, it was colder and snowed a tiny bit. I also had no encumbrances, so I went to the reservoir. Waiting for a colder day was a smart move on my part because judging by all the ruts (which you'll have to take my word for because there are no visible ruts in these pictures), it had been nasty the days before.

My bike is there to prove that I brought a bike with me.

Now, the snow has fallen and I'm walking everywhere because I'm deathly afraid of getting salt on my bikes.

Remember, The Eel 2 is Saturday! And fear not, it's on the road and the road won't be gross on Saturday!

This picture is scary, though.

ps. 3 posts in one day? our blog is awesome!
Read more!

Bike Love: What's Old is New

Why do new things please us, while old things seem so, you know, old? You get some new sneakers (or a new purse, or scarf, or ipod), and for a while, all you can do is catch glimpses of yourself in store windows and be like, "Damn, I look fly in these new kicks." But at some point, even if you keep them clean, the sneakers are just your regular sneakers, and you start thinking about the next new thing. It's the stuff that keeps our capitalist system going, and it's a crying shame. (I heard some guy on the radio the other day, a scientist, presumably, explaining this phenomenon in terms of neurons and stuff. It was complicated.)

One great way to get avoid this is to stop using something for a while, then go back to it. Today, I did that with my old friend, the Mercier Special Tour de France. Sure, loyal reader, you remember that old bike! Chillwill bequeathed it to be when he departed for warmer climes, and with some elbow grease and good old American ingenuity (and a hacksaw), I made it a wicked-awesome, three-speed coaster brake, do-anything bike. Well, it had been lying fallow for a while, partly because the trusty Xootr is so unrelentingly reliable (and foldy), and partly because I was having a little bit of seatpost slippage (so embarassing) and never got time to fix the problem. Then, like a gift from heaven, snows blanketed the region yesterday, shuttering everything and giving me some spare time to craft a shim (save your used hacksaw blades! They make great shims. Also, shivs.) and get the orange wonder back in fighting shape. And this morning, I joyfully took to the slushy roads on the finest mobile money can't buy. It's like having a brand new bike, and while I was riding it, I actually listened to my new ipod*.

Special Tour de France, detail

*Actually, just new to me. Thanks to magical craigslist, I traded an Xbox 360, which my stepfather-in-law gave me as a gift when he got some other system and which I never used, for a used ipod touch, which is really really cool. Read more!

Civil Disobedience

As you may recall, I live on a corner, so I have sidewalks on two sides of my house. One of these sidewalks connects to the street and to another sidewalk, and is generally used by people in the neighborhood to walk places. The other dead-ends at my driveway and there is no sidewalk on the rest of the block, so it's pretty much useless if your goal is to avoid walking in the street (unless you're visiting me). After the last big snow, I didn't shovel the sidewalk to nowhere because, well, it goes nowhere. Naturally, some West Hartford busybody called the town to complain, the cops came to my house, and I had to devote about four hours to chipping away six inches of ice so some snitch could avoid twenty feet of street.

Well, it snowed yesterday, and I wasn't about to repeat my mistake - my feeling is that if the cops are going to be showing up at my house, I want it to be for something really cool. But I wanted to let that anonymous complainer know that while I may have suffered a defeat, I continue to hold my head high, stick to my principles, etc. Although I was tempted to spraypaint "fuck you" on the snow, elementary school kids walk by there and I do actually want to be a good neighbor. Instead, I figured that if this person really wants to stroll to my driveway so much, he or she would appreciate a longer stroll. Also, I want to see if someone really has the moxie to call the cops because I shoveled my sidewalk in a zig-zag rather than a straight line. So to the unknown West Hartfordite who demands unfettered access to my driveway, I say, "Your move."

Civil Disobedience
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Monday, March 2, 2009

OK, enough with the snow

Our loyal reader will no doubt recall my early winter enthusiasm for the snow. There were hill-bombing adventures, late-night reservoir jaunts, and lots of fun falls. And I should be thankful for the snow this morning, since it gave me a reprieve from packing lunches, ironing a shirt, preparing a hurried breakfast, and all the other tasks attendant on getting a family of four out the door on a Monday morning. But you know what? I had a lot of time in the car this weekend, with family social calls to Cromwell on Saturday and Stamford on Sunday, and I was looking forward to my two-and-a-half-mile jaunt to work on the bike. Also, March is the part of winter when snow becomes charmless. That is all. Read more!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I guess I should have remembered to take pictures of people instead of only my bike looking sad by the Arts Academy.

It's been the same three people who've shown up for Critical Mass in January & February. We're certainly not massive and we're not particularly critical either. In fact, our ride probably doesn't warrant the title of Critical Mass, we're more of just a bike ride. We're not really taking back the streets from anyone, but we've definitely covered far more distance than those big rides of last year. Read more!