Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fixed gear mountain biking: not cool? is a cool website, even if it's defunct. It went dormant right around when everyone started riding fixed gear things, which I think is 2008. Even mountain bikers started riding fixed gears, and with the advent of the tomi cog, it's pretty easy to do with your existing singlespeed. Things have cooled off and cycling factions seem to be a little bit less dogmatic.

Cog cat!

I bought a tomi cog myself a few months ago for my Mono Cog. I haven't been riding it that much lately because I find myself liking to shift in the woods and the bottom bracket is in rough shape. So, I figured making it fixed would make me want to ride it more.

Riding swoopy, flowy stuff is fun. Even rock gardens aren't too bad, but logs are cumbersome. I don't know. There's really no higher meaning to be found in your legs moving all the time. I mean, people only ride fixed off road to get noticed, right?

Or, perhaps I was just having a off day last night.

And, take a moment to remember Jure Robic, a man more hardcore than a million fixed gears or thousand D2R2's.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


As you may be aware, we've been in a crazy drought. With rain the last two days, all of the sudden I'm losing my mind with the absence of dust. That's all I've got for beat bike blog profundity today.

On an unrelated note, did you know that the Hartford Advocate's Dan D'ambrosio also writes from Adventure Cycling? We should interview that guy here. Read more!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bikes Outside: Pepto Dismal

The dawn of this week finds me sick, so today's Bikes Outside post, slotted in between long-overdue stretches of sleep and home remedies, is going to be weaker than my immune system. This Asylum Street bike outside is the pinkest entry thus far, edging out July's Desert Rose by a vibrant brake cable housing-length. Like the 'Rose, this bike awaits its owner at an extreme angle, though in a different axis, nuzzling a fireplug with its double-wide saddle. The poor thing looks drunk.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dog Poop

So, I did the race at the Dog Park. It was ok. The officials were a little intense and the course wasn't too fascinating. But, turnout was good and it was a good bunch of racers.

I had the holeshot, faded to third and then crashed. I ended up where I assumed to be somewhere around tenth at that point. I was a little off and finished 12th. It was fun and nice that I was able to ride to a race.

Johanna took some good pictures and video.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Dog park

I don't like dog parks. Many people know this. There was once a consideration to do this in Elizabeth Park. I became very angry. Dogs are good (not as good as cats, but still good). Dog parks are bad.

Anyway, I have signed up for a 'cross race (one to which I can ride my bike) tomorrow in Rocky Hill that benefits the eventual construction of a dog park in Rocky Hill. My hope is that my entry fee goes entirely to paying the officials, etc., but I bet some of it is going to go to this thing.


I don't have any pictures of Elm Ridge Park, so the picture is Quarry Park.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Triumph in Failure--Wrong-Haul Truckin'

Several months back, I was invited to vend and do a bike demonstration at the Coventry Farmers' Market's "Green Up, Connecticut" day, which took place on the Sunday before Labor day. I happily accepted.

As the date approached, I scrambled to get my vending stuff together and a plan of action. I don't have a truck, so I was going to have to borrow or rent one. On the other hand, I thought, what if I rode my bike there? I realized that this would require the towing of my utility trailer, which would slow me down a bit. I checked a few online mapping sources and determined it was just shy of 22 miles from my house to the market site in the Nathan Hale State Forest. I hemmed and hawed about it for a while and finally decided, hey, it's Green Up Day, dagnabbit, what better way to represent than to be all uber-sustainable and make the trip under my own power, right?

I realize in retrospect this was wildly ambitious on my part, but it seemed entirely doable. I had towed the trailer with a load of DJ and audio equipment for a 10 mile loop last June during the Real Ride, so doubling the mileage while reducing the weight would allow for a steady trip. I loaded a new cargo bike and a folding bike swaddled in blankets. Over, under and around these I tucked a repair stand and some tools (for a bike maintenance demo) plus four tote bins full of helmets and accessories. Maybe I wasn't reducing the weight by all that much...

In the morning, I loaded up and headed east over the Charter Oak Bridge (the only bike trailer-friendly Connecticut River crossing) into East Hartford. Moving into Manchester, I saw that their stretch of the East Coast Greenway has been freshly paved, a nice improvement over my last ride there in July. I was running a bit later than I would have liked, so I called ahead to give some friends a heads-up. Once the Greenway made it through most of Manchester, I was past any area of familiarity. I began to rely on my printed directions, a set of maps and cue sheets sourced from the Google and the ECG websites. This was where things began to go especially wrong. Maps lacked details, cue sheets had wrong turns, I ended up riding through the "Crossroads of Hell" where I-384 ends and routes 44 and 6 split from one another. That interchange is fairly awful in a car, let alone the unwieldy contraption I was pedaling about.

My online sources had estimated that the trip would take about 2 1/4 hours to complete, to which I added a bonus hour to account for the added weight. What I didn't adequately account for was the hills. There were an awful lot of them. Hill climbing plus trailer equals very, very, veeery slow. It became more and more apparent that I would not be making it to the Farmers' Market in time to vend, but I pressed on. I pressed on for two main reasons:
-I was hoping my friends from Four Fields Farm would still be there so I could off-load some of my cargo into their Hartford-bound truck.
-Making it to the market site was the only attainable goal remaining for the day. I needed some sort of success to show for so many hours' work.

I finally arrived hours later than intended, having missed the market entirely. I was disappointed, exhausted, embarrassed and annoyed. I made a few calls. None of my truck or wagon-owning friends were around, unsurprisingly on the holiday weekend. I called Schleppi, who agreed to drive out and relieve me of a carload of weight. I spread a blanket on the ground in the now-empty vending field and took a very satisfying nap. Schleppi arrived with nourishing snacks and a smattering of reminders of what a dumb idea this was. I was able to fit everything but the cargo bike in her car, which made for a much lighter tow. Hooray Schleppi!

I rode home a different way. The return directions (from the same sources) were flawless, save for one issue. The gates at the entrances to the Hop River Trail were purposely narrow to allow bicycles through while preventing motor vehicle access. Unfortunately, that also meant that the trailer was too wide to pass through as well. I managed to hand-pull it around one gate, but had to unload and carry it through the second. The trail is really nice, by the way-- probably my favorite rail-trail thus far. I definitely want to return- on a much nimbler machine.

I finally made it home, well after dark. The waning glow of my headlight helped me resolve to bite the bullet and splurge on a dynamo hub, so look for a wheel-building post in the near future. I slept very well that night. It was a day of toil and disappointment, but I learned a few things along the way:

-It's mighty hilly east of the river.
-I can do this, just not over that distance or terrain (more on this point in a forthcoming post)
-Next time I transport anything to Coventry, I need to use a truck. Read more!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ultimate sandwich

It's important to have a good sandwich at some point during the day. Sometimes it's breakfast and sometimes it's another time. Today, it was breakfast.

Check this thing out:

tomato, brie, egg, veggie burger, sriracha sauce Read more!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brendan and Johanna ride a long way again

You may recall that two years ago Johanna and Brendan rode a long way. Since then, we've ridden other long ways, but this weekend, in honor of us turning 27, we rode the original long way.

We arrived at Crystal Lake and it was early and misty. It was cold, but we wore wool and Johanna had arm warmers.

We rode to Derby Line library and I peed in Canada (without telling Boarder Patrol!).

Then we rode through the hills of Holland, which look like that Microsoft windows default desktop.

We rode and rode some more. The whole route is paved, which is weird for the North East Kingdom

We ate lunch at Island Pond and it was very good. Chili, vegetable soup and two kinds of ziti.

Then we rode some more and then it was done.

I crashed once, because I was waiting for Johanna on the beach of Lake Willoughby. Riding a road bike on sand and in ditches is stupid and I fell down. It hurt.

Then we finished. It was great!

no more books at the BOOKS

The next day, I rode the beloved BOOKS loop.

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Bikes Outside: High Plains Drifter Makes My Day

As autumn comes and the weather gets cooler, my attentions must turn to battening down the battered hatches of Casa 'Statement before pipe-freezing season. While I am partial to more specialized establishments for supplies (lumber yards for lumber, plumbing supplier for pipes, etc) sometimes time and availability constraints find me begrudgingly shopping at the big home improvement center on New Park. On nearly every occasion, mine is the only bicycle locked up outside, so seeing another is a rare treat.

This Schwinn High Plains retains ties to the day when the Schwinn name, regardless of model, meant you could count on a certain level of quality. The mid-and-downmarket models weren't the lightest things around, but they were plenty solid. This well-preserved bike shares with most of its contemporaries the role of commuter bike in the oughts, and it's well-qualified for urban service. I realize I'm probably in the minority here, but Biopace cranks are an indicator of velo-coolness. My first new road bike rocked the oval chainwheels, and the mountain bikes of that era that I pined for but couldn't afford were elliptically equipped.

The unusual valve stem caps could also be indicators, in that I have seen such devices on cars function as low-pressure warnings. Viewed at very close range, one could also be led to believe that a robot dog has become excited. Perhaps they serve as counterweights for the large reflectors on the spokes. Regardless, the High Plains is getting the job done many miles away from its regional namesake.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Keep it Real- This Saturday!

We all had a blast during the last Real Ride hARTford and this Saturday evening, it's time for another. They're calling this one The Magical History Tour to commemorate their 35th anniversary. The relaxed, 10 mile route will include locations and public art installations from RAW's history. Alan, Dave and I set up the bike trailer sound system yesterday and DJ Rick will be back in town to spin the virtual wheels of steel. Riders who would like to decorate their bikes on site at RAW can do so starting at 4:30. We'll start lining up at 6:00 PM and should be rolling by 6:30. Real Art Ways is located at 56 Arbor Street.

photo: Caresse Amenta Read more!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Birthday party!!

I won't actually be able to attend, but I encourage everyone else to go to catalogue this weekend:

Hello All Hello Autumn,

Announcing our September CATALOGUE: Adam McHose, Superorganism

Saturday, September 18
56 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT
Suite # forthcoming

Adam does identity. He deals in the things that visually make us up, and distinguish us from one another. We can see we're unique, yet we're also pieces of information. Adam paints people, both digitally and analogue(ly), graphs them, flattens them and makes them new. There's something thing-ish, un-reproducible about his work, but ones and zeros are still its foundation. His work is like fractals. It's portraits. Both discrete and continuous, and very colorful. Supercolorful. That's just me talking, though. Check out his website!

CATALOGUE is a monthly event that showcases artists, musicians and other creative endeavors, and is hosted by Joe Saphire, Nick Rice, and Joel VanderKamp (our newly-wed!, ever-absent advisor). The event is a collaboration between artist, curator, community and space. Contact us for directions or questions:, and please pass this invitation along to those we might have missed.

Joe Saphire, Nick Rice

I'll be off doing something along these lines:

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Moose and memory

It's been a weird week. Last weekend I was in San Francisco for Lex & Dan's wedding. While there, my parents called to let me know that my step-grandpa, Luis, died and the funeral, etc. was Thursday-Saturday. During the intervening days, a God war was waged at work.

Sunday was the first normal day in awhile, so I went for a bike ride. I went out to Granville, with stop at Neapuag and Tunxis state forest (I rode through Peoples, but not on any dirt, so I didn't get the state forest experience). While riding up rt. 20 from Riverton to Milo Coe Rd., I took a bizarre detour down an dead end. When I came back, there was a Subaru idling by the gate. As I turned to get back on rt. 20 the man in the car yelled at me to watch out for the moose up the road. Then he asked if he wanted to see pictures of the moose. They were four moosey mooses. I got out my camera, but the moose had left. If I hadn't taken the weird detour, I would have seen them, but maybe they would have killed me.

Also, I saw the monument that explains why Milo Coe Rd. is called Milo Coe Rd.

And, there were these strange RIPs on Hartland Hollow Rd., which were recent, but strange, because the road is closed to traffic.

Oh, because of the funeral, I didn't do that Landmine Classic 50 miler. I figured I hadn't enough saddle time in the last two weeks to be at all prepared, though after riding today I realized I had some miles in me. None the less, the relaxation was preferable.

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Bikes Outside: Discovered in Hartford

The 2010 Discover Hartford Tour, reviewed nicely here on Real Hartford was just one of three events that brought a bunch of people downtown to Bushnell Park on Saturday. The weather was fantastic, turnout was strong and group spirits were high. As participants trickled in, every tree, railing, post and trashcan in the southeast quadrant of the park began to accumulate bikes of every shape and size. There were plenty of high-dollar race-ready bikes around, oodles of road and mountain bikes as well as more plebeian hybrids and comfort bikes. There were a few nice tandems, some folding bikes, several recumbents and at least two unicycles sitting around before and after the ride as well. There was a little bit of everything to look at, and I didn't get nearly enough time to gawk at or photograph everything that caught my eye. As usual, I did tend to gravitate to the vintage beaters and the oddities among the many hundreds of bikes in attendance. Among my favorites were a flat black ratttlecanned Colnago slumming with a Hercules headtube badge and a home-brewed mostly bamboo bike that appeared to be Raleigh-derived.

The handmade bikes on display from MSH1 Bicycle Works were stunning, if technically ineligible for Bikes Outside. I chatted with owner/builder Matt Klucha for a while and bought some braze-ons from him. Good guy. I'll make an exception for a display bike just this once.

The scene was similar at each of the two rest stops on the 25 mile route, though each time I saw more bikes that I hadn't noticed before. Seeing so many people out on bikes in Hartford really made my day. Thanks to Bike Walk Connecticut, all the volunteers who made it happen and all who participated.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Get on your bikes and ride!

The 2010 Discover Hartford Bicycle & Walking Tour is happening (and I do mean happening) this coming Saturday, September 11. Online registration ends Thursday evening. That's tomorrow, for those of you who are still off by a day since Labor Day. You can still register in person on Saturday if you'd prefer to pay an additional $5 and wait in line. The tour committee has been working overtime to make this year's tour better than ever, with live music, food, art, bike demos and displays, mobile DJ and more reasons to linger after you finish your ride. It's going to be a blast and you should be there!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Ross, County Wexford

If you ride BMX in Hartford, you probably go to New Ross, County Wexford Park and have arguments with skateboarders. TJ and I sit on the skateboarding task force and we working on making NRCW (or Heaven, as everyone knows it, but I like to call it New Ross, County Wexford Park in honor of Hartford's sister city in Ireland) a real park for skateboards and BMX (with some other stuff, too). PBS did a short documentary on it. It's really cool and you can watch it here. For a few brief second you can see me ride a skateboard pitifully.

And, if you want to lend some input to the design process of the park, come down on September 26 at 1pm for a public input session.
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Bikes Outside: Raleigh 'Round the Neighborhood

In observance of Labor Day, this week's bike outside was pushed to Tuesday morning. Today, we look at a former British subject leading an active life in Frog Hollow. It is a rare trip I make down Park street that I don't see this bike parked or being ridden. If memory serves, the mix of older and newer fonts on this particular example place it around 1970, give or give a year. The tall head tube indicates a 23" frame (the other available size being 21")

This particular Raleigh Sports (see what I did there?) some interesting aesthetic choices. The decorative spoke beads are a youthful contrast with the stodgy old school machine. The bobbed fenders enhance the sporting look and ensure that important components like the brakes and lower headset bearings are spared the flung muck of foul weather riding, without depriving the rider of his fair share of road spray. A brush repaint at some point carefully skirted around the original decals. The bike is cared for, in a very DIY sort of way.

I'm especially fond of the Raleigh Sports model, as my Dad had one, purchased new (along with a matching ladies' Sports for my Mom) at Hogie's Cycle in Hawthorne, NJ around 1975 or so. His had the 21" frame in metallic chestnut brown with a proper leather Brooks saddle. It was sold at a garage sale years ago, sadly, but I'm always on the lookout for its twin. The crisp ticking of a Sturmey-Archer hub is aural comfort food for my cycling soul.

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