Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Passat own risk

My Passat was a car to be reckoned with. It had five gears, four cylinders, a turbo charger, leather seats, an aluminum skid plate that could withstand nasty rocks, almost entire soda bottle of displacement and some other stuff. While I might write about riding my bike all the time, when I do drive, I really enjoy it. The Passat was already to go up to Vermont on Friday with a bike, a cat and two ladies, but it wasn't meant to be. Turning on to Trout Brook, the suspension broke and the car ostensibly ceased to be.

This trail will improve when it dries on in the summer. Some parts were a tiny bit muddy.

After regrouping and traumatizing the cat, we eventually made it to Vermont, whereupon I explored the Craftbury Outdoors Center. Nice people over there. They let me ride their singletrack and I bought a cliff bar. I tried to find some roads that didn't exist. I almost repeated the same thing a day later, but by inadvertently trespassing. After some course correction, I found a pretty cool ATV trail over Dunn Mountain.

The famous Bayley-Hazen Military Road near Craftsbury Outdoor center.
Read more!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Save Cedar Mountain!

I stand corrected. I thought because the trees were still standing on Cedar Mountain this spring, the spooky mountain was safe. If you saw the front page of the Courant today, you know that the woods aren't so safe from the Toll Brothers (who made lots of money destroying our economy with the subprime mortgage crisis). Like any stupid plan to develop the woods and restrict public access, there's a thoughtful, organized and right opposition.

Anyway, if you enjoy Cedar Mountain, you should go to the public hearing tonight at 7pm in Newington at Town Hall, 171 Cedar Street. I can't make it, so I'm submitting written testimony.

May 25, 2011

Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission,

I write to you today to express my opposition to residential development on Cedar Mountain. For decades, residents of south Hartford, Wethersfield and Newington have been blessed with several hundred acres of woodland on Cedar Mountain. This area is one of the few large forests remaining in close proximity to the core of capital region and it benefits the area’s residents immeasurably. I understand Newington’s desire to increase its grand list, but there is no reason to destroy forest when there are redevelopment opportunities right downtown. West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, for example, redeveloped the town’s center and increased the tax base without negatively impacting the town’s balance of open space. Developing Cedar Mountain is akin to West Hartford having left the old car dealership in the center vacant and building houses in Westmoor Park.

As an avid mountain biker and hiker, I know that my opinion on this matter is somewhat self-serving, but I know that many others directly benefit from recreating on Cedar Mountain or indirectly benefit from having the exhaust from Berlin Turnpike cleansed by the trees in its forest. A few years ago, the City of Hartford turned down a proposal to develop a 200 acre equestrian facility in the middle of Keney Park. Hartford made the right decision in preserving its northern forest. I hope that Newington makes the right decision and preserves Cedar Mountain.

I understand that as Newington officials, you will probably take the opinion of a non-resident without much weight, but I hope that my writing impresses upon you that the destruction of Cedar Mountain would have a regional impact.

Thank you,

Brendan Mahoney

Read more!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When there's something to blog...

...I'm usually too busy to blog. Definitely too busy busy to take pictures, so this post will be attended by the inky blackness of night.

To begin, I moved to Manchester and have already found some new trails that I hope to integrate into some future ridiculous ride. Speaking of which, some people actually showed up for the second (and first advertised) Detour de Connecticut, and some are even still on speaking terms with me, so another success in my book.

I also broke a frame. Being the piss-ant little thing that I am, that is a pretty rare happening, as I tend not to stress things much, but with nary a noise, the back end of my mountain bike started feeling wobbly. Turns out I had put a crack clean through the rear dropout. I walked out of the woods and finished the ride with a piece of roadside-found-leash helping hold everything together. Sort of felt like riding a rear suspension bike.

With the move, I've also been working on the digs, and highlights of bike-transported materials include a 8 foot pine plank and and a 40"x32" mirror (luckily I avoided the hex of 7 years bad luck). I am, however, going to whuss out on the washing machine and enlist the help of a friend with his pickup truck. A small portion of the move has happened by bike though. Yippee.
Read more!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Brendan and Class 4 Roads

I doubt that anyone reads this blog closely enough to recall my last foray up Mt. Hor. Willoughby State Forest is a big old state forest next to Lake Willoughby. It's got some trails and forest roads that are very awesome. For awhile, I've been trying to figure out how to get into the forest from the north. I finally figured it out (Big Valley Lane). I have a mediocre map of the forest and the late, great Dave Blumenthal did some mapping through there as part of XVT, but I kept taking some wrong turn and ending up back on RT 16. Once in the state forest, I ended up deviating from the road and riding/walking all the way to the Mt. Hor summit. Descending from Mt. Hor back to the CCC road was pretty exciting on a 'cross bike.

I also did some exploration closer to Shadow Lake and found an awesome descent down from the Sheffield Square area on Quarry Road back to RT 16, which led me to a climb that brought me through the Black Hills and right back to Shadow Lake. That was quite a find, but the final descent back to the lake was super muddy and kind of ruined my bike.

Anyway, it was a weekend of yard work and class 4 roads (I believe I was on a few that had been reclassified with trail status).

I got a new camera, what do you think of the image quality?

Next week I plan to explore Dunn Mountain.
Read more!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hartford Alleycat?

It's been a while since we've had one of these. I believe this is still planned for Sunday. Who's riding?

Read more!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Failed Jamaican food delivery

At work yesterday, a bunch of Jamaican food appeared and it was very good. There was extra, so I took some rice and stewed chicken home in a couple of empty lunch containers I had at my desk. Since the sun inexplicably came out when I was riding home, I decided to extend my commute down to the ferry landing. I cut through Mill Wood Park and Quarry Park. I slipped and fell on some brownstone extra-slick rock, but was mostly unscathed. It started raining again, but not too heavily.

I've often like to think that I could be a messenger or food delivery guy (the bike kind), but I doubt it: the rice container exploded all over my pannier. It was gross. The chicken survived, though.

Read more!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bike to Work Week, brought to you by the fender industry

I unwittingly got an early start on Bike to Work Week with a full-day Sunday work call in South Green. The weather was very accommodating, with the day's heavy rains backing off during the 8 o'clock and 5 o'clock hours for relatively dry commutes. Monday was less rainy, but dreary nonetheless. It's still nice to get out though, and the plants are looking especially lush and green these days, so throw on your rain gear and have at it. There's plenty to do.

Tomorrow, the Ride of Silence makes its solemn way from Elizabeth Park. Meet at the Pond House on the West Hartford side of the park at 7 PM.

Thursday, elementary school kids will attend a 169th birthday party for Albert A. Pope, founder of Pope Manufacturing and Columbia Bicycle, with cake and prizes at lunchtime at the Pope Park Recreation Center, Hartford.

This Friday brings us Bike to Work Day of Bike to Work Week of Bike Month, designating Friday as the Bike-to-Workiest Day of all. Several area rides will funnel the masses to a 7 AM rally at West Hartford's Blue Back Square and subsequently an even bigger rally at the capitol taking place from 7:30 to 8:30 AM. The rally is said to be peaking at 8:15, making that moment the Bike-to-Workiest moment of the entire freaking year! Strange and powerful things have been known to occur at such a moment, so you'd be foolish to pass it up. Also, there will be coffee and bagels.

Bike Walk Connecticut's Events Page has all the details on this week's festivities. Read more!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Found Things

*** Special Bulletin: I hope everyone is out earning their bike commuting merit badge this week. It's National Bike to Work Week and there is a Bike Rally at the State Capitol building on Friday morning. Put up some flyers at work and cajole your friends. The more the merrier. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming... ***

I don't know about you, but I absolutely love found things. In the last couple of weeks I've beenlucky enough to find several things worthy of a little blogosphere mention. For those that aren't finders, it's pretty simple. Free, not stolen, and bonus points when unexpected. An example would be fresh ramps (wild greens) found on a hike.

My first find was one of necessity. The bottom bracket of my trusty tank had given out. I picked up a handful of bearings at the local shop, Bicycles East, and thought it would be a simple repack. To my dismay the BB was entirely shredded and I wasn't about to buy a new one. Aftermoping for a while about not having a nearby bike co-op (http://www.thebikeproject.org/)had an idea - DUMPSTER DIVE. It worked perfectly. I found a kid's bike in the local transferstation salvage yard, stripped the BB, and was good to go. The Huffy rolls once more.

Once you 'learn' to dumpster dive, you don't stop. What an amazing source of found things. This quickly brings us to the second found thing. A friend asked me to keep an eye out for a used child trailer to convert into a flatbed cargo hauler. That same day while passing by the previously bounteous salvage pile, I happened across just that item. Score! I tied the trailerhitch to my basket and dragged it home. All it's missing is a proper hitch, but Doug can figurethat out.
The last find is not really a thing, but I'll explain. I've found some folks in the Hartfordarea who like the same offbeat riding that I do. The Detour de Connecticut that Salem organized was a perfect example. Longish mileage, notracing, exploring new places, and very mixed terrain. Late in the 113 mile trek, I distinctly recalla short uphill segment that appeared to be a creek bed. At the end of the all day ride I was justabout bonked, but used my last couple calories to sustain my perma-smile. More please. I'd liketo find more.
Read more!

In praise of the swamp thing

In which I become the tallest midget...

Yesterday was the Winsted Woods race. As you may have noticed, it rained a lot. When it rains a lot, people make a big deal out of tire choice. I suppose they probably have a point. Originally, I was going to run an IRC Serac, but I brought another wheel with a Maxxis Swamp Thing just in case. It was a good decision. The Swamp Thing is magical in nasty mud (terrible the rest of the time).

In terms of actual racing, I didn't do very well. I had a good start, but on the first unrideable climb (a tire can only do so much), I started running and my heart rate went through the roof. It took like a mile to recover. I went from second to fourth and never found third again. Although, judging by results, I was pretty close to catching third by the end. Too bad they shortened it to two laps. Three wouldn't have been a problem. I did two in 1:07, so it would have been three in 1:40. I think the officials just wanted to go home. Also, I hit all the jumps and the log thing, and didn't crash at all!

I'm not generally one to Monday morning quarterback by suckitude, but I chalk up some of my problems to warming up inadequately. It was raining, which was unpleasant, so I wasn't eager to go out on the course and since it was muddy, I didn't want to ride very far for fear of seizing up my bike before the actual race.

But, anyway, my 3rd place at Winding Trails and fourth yesterday narrowly made me the Connecticut State Champion (CAT 2 19-29)! I got a medal and everything (the medal was everything). Being the CAT 2 State Champion just means that it's finally time to relegate myself to the back of the pack in CAT 1.

I went for a pretty kick-ass ride to the blowhole on Friday and found some nice connective and fun trails in Dividend Park. And, I did some intense grocery shopping training on Saturday. I can fit $80 worth of Stop and Shop food on my bike, so I can fit like $200 worth of Whole Foods food.

Read more!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


If you rode eel #1 or participated in one of those many source to sea river cleanups, you've noticed a little ribbon of singletrack that runs from the Park-CT River confluence to the northern edge of Charer Oak Landing. Every time we have a cleanup, interesting things are discovered there: giant knife, half a canoe, etc. Now, it seems to be developing a library of pornography. I first noticed it a few weeks ago. I took the scenic route back to work today after lunching at home and it looks like there's more.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dented the rim on my favorite wheelset

I've been on some nice rides lately, but I seem to have developed some bloggers' block, because I don't know what to say other than that they were fun and involved bikes. There wasn't anything deep or philosophical and I didn't take any pictures. I suppose that sort of ride is the ideal kind, wherein it's only about riding your bike. Very zen (none were fixed, though!).

Very zen pipe smoking!

I went on Salem's ride. Although, I spent only about 5 miles of it with Salem. I rode from my house to the Manchester meeting point, but I was late and didn't catch up until Willimantic. Then in Willimantic, well Windham, the pace picked up and it was just Tim and me. In downtown Willimantic, I picked up some fine Williglass and got a flat and discovered that my spare had a hole in it. Fellow Beatblogger, Tony, had a patch kit, patches were flying around and soon I was on my way again (with a patched spare, too). It's a great ride and just as much fun the second time. Though, this time I rode it on my road bike with 25s instead of a 'cross bike with 35s. It would seem my memory of the amount of pavement was greatly exaggerated. The loose stuff was pretty slow going. I ended up not technically completing the whole thing, because I rode home after the Meshomasic, rather than ride all the way back to Manchester. It started raining again and I thought Johanna and I might be going to a play. I tried to take the ferry, but it wasn't running.

Pipe smoking and beer drinking. No better way to prepare for Salem's ride.

Yesterday, I rode with the group that used to ride on Wednesdays. It was a nice, long and fast ride around the Meshomasic. I was feeling good and riding pretty well. Sadly, I dented the rim on the front wheel of my favorite set (blue velocity arrowheat laced to xt hubs). Not terrible, but it's definitely a dent. Oh well.

Also, I broke a spoke last Friday. What am I doing to wheels!?

Read more!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thug Lite

Dear Wannabe Thug,

You oughta stop listening to your friends now. They were egging you on to race me after I almost clipped your ass this evening. See, that's what happens when you ride out in front of someone thinking, "oh, she'll stop." No. No, they won't. Seeing that I didn't care, they were yelling, "race! race! race!" so you struggled on your too-tiny bicycle that looked like you outgrew it five years ago.

Here's what's sad. You were winded, huffin' & puffin', and still couldn't keep up. I was in a medium gear, riding uphill (not my favorite), my heart and respiration rate were normal, I was wearing three-inch heels, AND I have about fifteen years on you.

Go home to your mama!

-Schleppi Read more!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wound update

My gross wound from this weekend is getting better, but walking to work is actually pretty nice. Time to collect my thoughts, look at flowering trees, say "good morning" to people, document things on see click fix. Also, I've ridden passed this bike balcony at least a hundred times without noticing it.

Rain was threatening this morning and I wanted to see if I could pedal. I can, so it looks like I'm still on for Salem's ride on Saturday.
Read more!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Interesting weekend

On Friday, a ride of semi-epic proportions was planned and happened. Damian, Dario and I set off for Middlefield to meet Peter and Salem. From there, via Tyler Mill (a place I hope to some day ride with a mountain bike), we rode to New Haven. Nominally, it was to participate in that East Coast Greenway ride, but we snails of the Group W bench (not to be confused with the eponymous "clothing store" in New Haven) aren't really joiners. We were the only ones in wool, so we let them leave without us.

Eventually, we caught back up and ate snacks. I've never ridden the Farmington Canal Trail south of Farmington, because I wasn't really sure where it was and wasn't excited by the prospect of riding rt 10 in Southington until I found it. The state park section with the canal next to trail is really nice.

Dario got an awful double flat on a pot hole near Peck Ln, which requires everyone's assistance in fixing. A few miles north, Peter and Salem left for home, by Farmington, Dario and Damian left me. Then, I was all by my lonesome. I rode up to 189 and came home over the abandoned road over the Tariffville Gorge, swung by Critical Mass for some unknown reason on continued on home.

No complaints, it was a nice ride

On Saturday, I was going to go help my dad work on his car. I opted to take the scenic route through the Reservoir to get some bonus mountain biking in on the way there. That was stupid, apparently, because I ended up in the emergency room. Riding over one of those logs on the fence line trails, I bobbled, didn't click out in time and keeled over. Not particularly spectacular, but I fell on a sharp stick and tore a hole in my leg. 18 stitches!! The doctor and med student at the ER put me back together well.

I'm not allowed to ride my bike for the rest of the week, so I'm walking instead. Yesterday, I walked around People's state forest. It was nice.

And then, they killed Osama bin Laden!
Read more!