Monday, August 30, 2010

I miss my car

At times, I've considered getting rid of my car. I don't drive it very much and I have pay for its upkeep, taxes & fees, attempt to fix it and wash it twice a year. Before the great C&O ride, I realized that the rear passenger brake pads were used up. So, I parked the car at my parents' house (where the car tools live) and ordered some pads. The pads arrived and things were difficult- requiring special tools to retract the piston in the caliper and then the caliper didn't retract because it seems to be hyper-extended and broken. It's been a big mess and I haven't had my car in about a month. While living without hasn't been particularly difficult, as in I can get around by bike and if I really need a car to go a long distance, I can borrow one or get a ride, I really miss my car. Driving is fun.

In other news, did anyone notice how hot it was yesterday? I did one of those trans-Talcott rides and thought I was going to die. I went through three water bottles and a big bottle of Gatorade and didn't feel normal until this morning. You'd think that about a gallon of liquid with be sufficient for a five hour ride.

Lincoln Town Truck, as seen in Glastonbury during Brendan & Johanna's sojourn to the state forest.
Read more!

Bikes Outside: Pratt Still Lacks Racks in Fact

I've seen this hardtail on Pratt Street dozens of times. It's one of the regulars at the ornate iron fence in front of the late, lamented Tanuki Japanese Noodle Kitchen. It's still not a proper bike rack, mind you, but it is one of the prettiest improvised bike racks in town.

Circumstantial evidence points to bike messenger usage though a derailleur-geared mountain bike with disc brakes is a bold departure from messenger orthodoxy. It's not a bad idea, though, as there is plenty of off-road goodness to be had near downtown Hartford. What better way to cap off the workday than a knobby-tired happy hour?

Here's mud in your eye!

Read more!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hartford 'Cross II

So, I was lukewarm about doing another 'cross race, because it was a lot of work. But, it was also pretty cool. In that spirit, mark your calendars for October 24. Bikereg registration will be up soon as I finish the flyer.

I did some more GPS experimentation yesterday on a ride with Dario. Apparently, we did a lot of riding in the river.

Read more!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Calories and stuff

Calorie deficits are weird. You do something that uses of a lot of calories. You're not hungry while you're doing it, but then you're hungry for the next three days.

you can buy this cd. it's got music by me on it.

Anyway, there's another catalogue this weekend. It's a tag sale and you can buy art for $5. Some details:

Hello All,
Reminder: August CATALOGUE event, Original Art Object Tag Sale:

Saturday, August 28
From mid-morning onward
342 Oakwood Avenue, WH CT

This is an opportunity to:
Make money
Get your work into the community
Get rid of old objects that someone else might love
Purchase art objects that are worth more than $5 for $5
Drink lemonade

True-no-foolin' tag sale. It will take place beside the road and contain a million art objects. This is the goal. We do not have a million yet. Many, but not a million. Everything will be priced at $5 and will come with a CATALOGUE tag of authenticity, signed by the seller. The seller will take home all earnings! There is no limit to the amount of art objects you can offer. Come and sell things. Come and buy things.

Contact Nick or Joe at to arrange drop-off and to sign tags by Monday, August 23rd (so that the work can be organized, photographed, and arranged by the 28th).


Read more!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spitting Swap

Early this past Sunday, I took a rainy ride to the New England Muscle Bicycle Museum in Bloomfield for their last "Northeast Bike Swap Meet" as this under-the-radar display of awesomeness is pared down and sold off.

I rode the Yuba to help deter myself from loading up on too many bikes, and it kind of worked, though I did pass up on a heartbreakingly cheap old Schwinn tandem. I did pick up a couple of wheels, tires and cranks for bikes I'm working on, stuffing some of them into a nice Dahon bag to ride up front as I slogged home. Also, in the spirit of the trendy new minimalism, I picked up a unicycle. I got somewhat wet riding to Bloomfield (I brought a spare shirt) and thoroughly soaked coming home in time to get a flat right in front of my house. I was glad that didn't happen en route, as changing the rear tire by the side of the road in the rain would have sucked.

The museum is like a secret wonderland of 60's pop culture. My favorite was the red George Barris-branded bike with mags and a surfboard rack! There are some vintage motorcycles there as well, so I got to ogle and pine for an old Triumph again.

I don't know the full story of how much or how quickly they are winding things down, but you'd do well to have a visit if you get a chance.

Read more!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wet Feet

sorry for being out for so long. tons of changes at city hall, summer vacation, blah, blah, blah......

looking for suggestions on this the first of several rainy days in a row and with wet fall and winter coming up. what do all of our readers (and fellow bloggers) do to keep their feet dry? neoprene socks, waterproof shoes (if so, which ones), shoe covers? what?????

as you may be able to guess i have not found a solution, but i would really like to! Read more!

Bikes Outside: Mad About Uconn

In the spirit of spending more time in different neighborhoods, this Monday marks the first time I have featured a Bike Outside in the West End. I don't spend much time in the fancy-schmancy part of Hartford. I like that it's fancy, mind you, but sometimes I find it uncomfortably schmancy. This Schwinn Madison was tethered to the rack at Uconn Law School. I'm pretty sure this is the first Madison I have seen that hasn't been messed with (outside of new one at a bike shop). The color-matched rims are still there and the bike has intact drop bars and two, count 'em, two, brakes. This, plus the near-mint condition and cheesy clamp-on reflectors make me think it is a recently-made purchase. Is it just me, or was there an excessive amount of mid-paragraph dash-usage there?

The Madison is a good-looking bike. I'm a sucker for chrome on bike frames, and the part-chromed fork and rear stays win points in my book. Schwinn has been mining its aesthetic past for a while with a variety of retro models. As it happens, they have a long and storied past full of many handsome machines, so that plan has proven reasonably successful. Schleppi's Jenny was parked at the same rack for a double-dose of old-school at the law school.

The Madison seems popular with the cicada set as well.

Read more!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Early yesterday day morning, I picked up Dario, with whom I was wearing a matching jersey, and set for the great bicycle summit at D2R2. To get pumped, I played some Fran├žois Couperin for the ride up. We arrived, did some bathroom work, messed with bikes, shook hands with Sandy (who invented D2R2s and hails from West Hartford), Dario wrapped himself in a tubular, we signed in our start time (6:41am) and we were off.

Our plan was to go slow, so we went slow. The staggered start of this year was nice, because we stayed out of a group, creating little impellment to attach oneself to a group and ride their pace.
The first section to the top of the hill in Heath has a lot of climbing, but nothing super steep until the hill up to the first check point. It averages 15% for like a mile or something crazy like. I was worried that I was overgeared with my lowest ratio being 34:32 (with 700x32c wheels, that's a 28.7" gear), which for most people is pretty low, but is it for a weakling like me? It was ok: I found that if I maintained a bit of momentum and stayed on top of the gear that I could work it. It was still pretty difficult, though.

My brush with mechanical problems also came during the first section. There was a "thump thump thump" coming from the rear end of the bike, whose frequency was related to the bike's speed. At first I thought I'd picked up a pebbled and it was hitting the chain stay, but upon investigation, it appeared that a knobby had partially detached itself from the tire. We asked a couple riders if they had a any glue and one nice had some rubber cement. He was in a hurry, so he gave us the cement and rode off. I glued it on and it held for awhile (about a mile). I glued it again and the realized there were other knobbies falling off, and to some extent, my rear tire was falling apart. I glued what appeared to be the other worst one, but was fairly certain that this was futile. Another mile and the "thump thump thump" returned and then after a big descent it ceased because the knobby had fallen off and I was riding on the patch of casing underneath. With the thumps gone, the tire problem wasn't distracting me anymore, so I was able ride normally. I returned the rubber cement to its owner at the check point. And, by the end of the day, learned that you can ride pretty far on casing.

When you get back on your bike after checkpoint 1, you learn whether or not you were pushing yourself too hard at the beginning. I felt great, unlike last year. Royer Road comes pretty soon after the checkpoint, which is the closest thing to mountain biking on the route. It's great. Section 2 has Archambo Rd (the 27% gravel wall) and Hillman Rd, which along with Patten Hill at the end, are the hardest climbs on the route. Archambo is a pretty crazy little road, as in, why did they construct it without a switchback? Even the other side of it, which is paved, is very steep. It can't possibly be drivable ever in the winter, but people live on it. Almost immediately after Archambo is Hillman Rd., which is deceptively difficult because it's gets steeper in 200 yard stages (for about a mile) and each stage has a looser and looser road surface. There's some descending, a final climb up Franklin Hill Rd. and then some more descending to lunch.

Lunch was great this year! They had an excellent vegetarian sandwich & pasta salad for me and roast beef and ham for meat eaters. No cold baked potatoes (as I've often queried, what's up with Vermont (the lunch stop is in Guilford, VT) and cold potatoes on bike rides?) this time. I also ate a bunch of cheetos.

At this point, I had ridden considerably ahead of Dario and when he arrived, he was cramping up considerably. Sandy gave him a bunch of salt, but things looked dire. Intelligently, unlike me last year, he decided to take Green River Rd. back to Deerfield and confine himself to 80 miles for the day. I was sad that I was now the lone snail.

After lunch is when the true D2R2-ness of the D2R2 sets in. Everyone is spread out and the roads start to feel lonely. Maybe it's just the contrast from the lunchtime hubbub or maybe the roads really are lonelier, but for either reason, when you meet up with the cop in Leyden who's handing out water and Gatorade, you're pretty sure that the Leyden Police Department is comprised of the world's greatest public servants.

You go up and you go down, then you hear some bagpipes playing at a wedding. I caught back up with the Rapha guys, who seemed to be having some kind of problem on the side of the road, but they smiled and waved off my offer of assistance (when I saw them again at the finish dinner, one guy had a torn jersey, so maybe it was a crash or something). I got to the Green River water stop and then went down a section of Green River which was one of my favorites from last year. But, this year, I guess we've been having a big drought, because instead of being verdant, it was totally parched. I ran into Joe from Enfield, whom I met earlier in the day because he recognized me from this blog.

There are a couple of switchbacks off the river, when I (and several others) cramped up last year. Not so, this year!

Things flatten out for a few miles in Colrain before the intimidation that is Patten Hill. Going down Deerfield Rd. into Colrain, I drafted and then passed a Jeep. That was kinda cool.

And, then there was Patten Hill: the source of so much agony and angst for me. I mean, I've thinking about this hill all year, to the point that when I got to it I realized it existed in my mind more as myth than reality. Don't get me wrong, it's a really nasty hill. It starts off with pavement at like 15% or something, then flattens out on dirt, the steepens up again progressively until the top-- whereupon you eat salted watermelon and pickles.

But, I cleaned it and I cleaned all the hills this year, and I finished (complete with corn maze). Except for a chaffed but, I felt pretty good. I couldn't think of a better reason to get up at 4:00am and toil for twelve hours.

One final thought, with the weather so nice this year, I wonder if anyone set a new course record. Read more!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dead real estate

I was putting some final touches on Johanna's Jake the Snake for upcoming abuse of it on the D2R2. I wanted to take it for a spin, so I rode it up through Cedar Hill Cemetery, out towards the quarry and nearby spooky environs. Much too my surprise, they're doing all sorts of crazy new construction at Cedar Hill. It looks like they're adding more ponds and that they've taken down a good 5 acres worth of forest (which, of course, make me a little sad). How did I miss this? I go through there pretty regularly, but it has been maybe a month or two.

And then (GPS is so cool!), I rode down through those other Cedar Hill trails and some of it appears to be legit singletrack.

(this is not a picture of legit singletrack)
This is totally fucked up. In the woods above Cedar Hill, there are a couple of pet carriers, indicating that people drive up there to abandon their pets. Assholes. If you can take on the responsibility of getting a pet, don't get one at all.
Read more!

Bikes on Dikes

It began with what was meant as a short detour on the way home from Colt Park -- a jaunt along the paved Riverside path.

But Saturday was the first time this summer that we were not faced with disgusting humidity, 85+ temperatures, or some crazy hail-tornado-thunderstorm-Armageddon warning. Instead of turning back when the pavement ended, we kept going on the path between the Connecticut River and the flood barrier.

Every single time I have ridden past the paved part of the path, I have encountered less than optimum riding conditions -- ice, mud, and most recently, sand. Starry Starry Bike would be awesome for these rides, but for some reason, I am always finding myself here on a bike that lacks awesome knobby tires.

Still, it's quiet. As Interstatement reminded me while I was kvetching about the precarious ride, we had not seen any pesky baby carriages in some time. Nothing makes me happier than being away from screaming babies and their often smug, entitled parents, as one is wont to be subjected to in the disputed territories.

A deer jumped across the trail. We did not encounter anyone once we reached the sandy part of the path, though we could hear the whining of dirt bikes across the Connecticut River.

The path dumped us out somewhere near the highway, a dike, and a giant billboard advertising pizza, which is basically torture when there are no decent pizza joints in that neighborhood. We rode alongside the tracks for a bit before finally finding ourselves back on the pavement, cutting through Keney Park, and then heading home.

*Somewhere along this route, I believe, is where I picked up a case of poisonivy. I won't post pictures of that.
Read more!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It was the bike nobody wanted. A barely-used Mongoose hardtail with a short-travel suspension fork and chunky tires that hummed loudly on the pavement. My upstairs neighbor gave it to me when I inquired about his much-nicer Nishiki mountain bike years ago. I found it too heavy for serious mountain biking and too redundant to use instead of my Trek 720. I gave it to a friend's teenage son. He wasn't interested, and it was too big for my friend or her daughters, so she gave it back to me. I offered it to another friend's teenage son, but he scored a sweet Giant on the cheap, so I was stuck with it once again. I disassembled the bike and installed a 700c rigid fork from a Trek, intending to make a sort of low-rent 96er winter beater. There wasn't much of a winter. It languished.

Enter friend #3. Her son was going to college and needed a city/commuter bike to get around. Did I have anything that might fit the bill? Yes I did, and this time I had an inspiration. At some point I had noticed that the rear stays were really long on this frame. It turned out there was enough room to fit a 700c x 32 rear tire with a fender. I got a used rear road wheel with a 7 speed freehub and a new front wheel for peanuts at a swap meet. I swapped a MTB axle and a 5mm spacer onto the rear wheel to make it 135mm and re-dished and trued it. I found a brand new Vittoria 700x32 tire on the curb in my neighborhood (?!) and found a matching one on sale at a local store. I had two front fenders left over from another project, so I mounted them front and rear, adding an orange strip of Scotchlite reflective vinyl for added visibility and snazziness.

The 'Goose originally had V-brakes front and rear. I mounted the original front brake on the Trek fork, installing a pair of the large original pads from my Yuba. Out back, the original canti posts were too distant from the 700c rim to use anything shy of a super-adjustable, super expensive Paul Components brake. I used a rear sidepull from an old 70's Nishiki road bike that is likely bound for single/fixiehood. By adjusting it wider than I usually would, I found that it worked quite well with the V-brake ratio lever. The slightly used original pads from the front brake fit nicely and made for perfect toe-in. The vestigial brake posts remain, which looks goofy, but I had no interest in grinding them off and repainting the frame, so they remain. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the bike stopped without squealing.

Gearing-wise, this bike is a 1x7, with a Hyperdrive-C cassette swiped from my disassembled Skykomish, Gripshift from a mid-90's Trek and a derailleur from a Peugeot mountain bike frame I have. I had modified a welded triple crank to a 38 tooth single long ago with this bike in mind, but it made for an abysmal chainline, so I had to get creative. I started with a ubiquitous late 80's/early 90's 28/38/48 Shimano Biopace mountain triple. With 10 nylon spacers from the hardware store and the stock chainring bolts, I was able to space the lone 38T ring inboard. That combined with a deliberate flip of the asymmetrical bottom bracket spindle (from a Fuji folding mountain bike) made the chainline just about perfect.

The cut-down flat handlebar and Sakae stem used to live on my Trek, and both came from trash-picked bikes (I installed the grips after the pictures were taken). The frame, headset, bottom bracket cups, seatpost, saddle and front brake are all that remain of the original bike. I messed with so many major aspects of this bike that the geometry was a blind crap-shoot, but it turned out to be a nimble-handling bike without being twitchy. The high-riding bottom bracket gives it bonus cornering and curb clearance. It earned barrio approval, with a few shouts of "Nice bike!" as I test rode it on Park Street. I was pleased. Most importantly, I'm told the bike's new owner loves his new ride, and it's unlikely to come back again. Third time's the charm! Read more!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ladies drink free!

I got an email (press release?) from this bike shop in Avon. I complained once about bike shops and woman, maybe these guys are trying to redeem themselves. Here it is:


My name is Edgardo Rossetti, I’m contacting you on behalf of Sun & Ski Sports in Avon, CT. We are hosting Outdoor Divas, a women-only event, in partnership with the MS Society and HealthTrax, on August 19, 2010 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

We are reaching out to local businesses, clubs and groups in the area and are pleased to extend an offer to you and your female athletes.

The various clinics will focus on:

  • Nutrition
  • Health assessments
  • Bicycle maintenance and repair
  • Bike fittings
  • Cycling shoe fittings and cleat placements

Additionally, Hor'dourves and wine will be provided.

Please let your female athletes know that they should RSVP at

For more information please contact us at 860.676.2300 x133 or at

Thank you!

Read more!

Bikes Outside: Political Asylum

Connecticut's primary came and went this past week. The barrage of robo-calls has had a brief lull, and a sense of impending underwhelm has enveloped the promise of the next few months and terms to follow. A candidate or two that have occasionally kind of recognized the existence of bicycles won. A bike-friendly candidate lost. It's all very bothersome, and I found the best way to get away from all of that is to go for a little ride, which I have done on some new (to me) local routes over the past few days. The best parts of these rides have been quiet and semi-remote, but the paved approaches have been peppered with bike riders aplenty.

A side effect of the bounty of bike riders is a corresponding dearth of street-parked bikes. They are out there, of course, but trying to avoid bike or location redundancy has made for slimmer pickings of late. Maybe it's a sign that I need to spend more time in further-flung neighborhoods from my own.

I believe today's Bike Outside is the first Asylum Hill contender in the series. I found it halfheartedly tethered to a Willard Street fence. It's a fairly typical beater Huffy, still getting the job done with few outward signs of maintenance. Like virtually all of its quasi-ATB 26" wheeled brethren, it sports knobby tires that help make urban riding that much more of a chore. I had two unexpected off-road jaunts this weekend, both on wide slicks, and it wasn't difficult enough to warrant running knobbies all day for the sake of the occasional patch of dirt. If the lower-end bikemongers would simply spec some street tires on these bikes, it would make riding them a bit more pleasant and cut down on the glut of used 26" knobby tires at our nation's bike co-ops. The Urban League's bike shop program (also in Asylum Hill) had a towering pile of them. It doesn't seem to be discouraging a lot of people from ridng, so I guess it's not all bad.
Have a good week.

Read more!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Less than a week

Now that primary season is over, we can focus our undivided attention on the D2R2. Last year's debacle weighs heavily on me. I wonder if other participants conflate D2R2 to be a measure of their person; I am. I've ridden about 600 miles in the last two weeks. Is that enough ('cause it's not really that much)? I don't know. It's serious, man, like I'm living in a Gatorade commercial.

Read more!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Jump

When I ride to work through Trinity, sometimes I jump this little gap in the parking lot by the field house. Often, there's a car parked there, but on nice days, there isn't. Today, there wasn't, so I did my lame little jump.

The end.

Read more!