Saturday, March 31, 2012


Mountain biking in the Hartford area means mountain biking with sprawl. Sometimes, trails you used to ride disappear completely and sometimes you deal with encroachment. There used to be these trails across town from where I grew up in Avon in Huckleberry Hill Park. Then, some parts of the woods became a subdivision and you can't ride there anymore. It was too bad.

Yesterday I was riding at Case Mountain and instead of crossing over to Gay City and riding to Blackledge Falls, I decided to keep going down the Shenipsit. It's cool. The first couple miles before getting into the Meshomasic are weird. It's this techy, bench-cut singletrack in backyard's McMansions in a creek valley.

I must say that the areas around the Shenipsit are probably better than the areas around the Metacomet for suburban mountain biking along ridge lines. The Metacomet is pretty good, but there's something to be said for trails that were made with mountain biking in mind. Al Tinti is a pretty talented guy. I wish he had a counterpart on my side of the river. Although, the Shenipsit itself through much of the Meshomasic is a ten foot-wide ATV road.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

We're #1!

At first, I was going yo write a post about this ride I took on Friday in which I crossed a swamp by old newgate prison and then discovered this cool trail and some other stuff like that. It also involved things like the metacomet trail and frame pumps. But, the beat bike blog was nominated for this blog contest on the courant website (maybe by Dario?) And we need your votes. This is where you vote. We're the only blog involving bikes nominated and you vote for us by that reason alone. Besides, we're coming up on post #1000 and that would be a fitting present.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whose streets? My streets!

As you've probably noticed, the weather has turned eerily nice. I know that it's spring, but this is beyond those days in the mid 50s that I normally associate with the beginning of spring. I liked those days.
Anyhow, when weather suddenly turns nice, people remember that they own bikes and venture out. Generally, I'm pretty positive about more people on the bikes, but in early spring part of me gets offended by the fair weather riders, especially after our insignificant winter. I feel that my weird brethren and I ensured that by riding through the dark unpleasantries of winter, we persevered in keeping a small slice of the road reserved for bikes.
And, this is why I have an inflated ego and no friends.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Tim Johnson rides on Hartford again

You may recall that Tim Johnson and some other people stopped in Hartford en route to Washington last year. You can even go ride with them if you like.

It is happening again, today and tomorrow in fact. Here's a press release about it to save me some typing:


Local Cycling Champion Jeremy Powers to Join Ride from Hartford Plaza Hotel Saturday, March 17, to Raise Awareness for Benefits of Bicycling
WHAT: Bikes Belong is hosting the second annual Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington (, a grueling 5-day, 500-mile event that raises funds for the Bikes Belong Foundation (, which focuses on improving bicycle safety and enhancing children's bike programs. The ride begins in Boston and makes its first stop in Hartford before continuing 130 miles to New York City. Riders then pedal on through Philadelphia and Baltimore before ending at the National Bike Summit ( in Washington D.C. Each day, participants travel between 50-130 miles in daylight and darkness and whatever elements Mother Nature offers.
WHEN: Saturday, March 17, 2012, 7:30 a.m.

WHERE: Hartford Plaza Hotel
100 East River Drive
[East] Hartford, CT 06901
WHO: - Tim Johnson (34), 6-time national cyclocross champion
- Jeremy Powers (29), born in Niantic, CT, professional cyclocross champion
- Professional cyclists and triathletes
- Local cycling community
PHOTO/BROADCAST OPPORTUNITIES: Interviews with Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and riders; bicyclists in action as pack leaves Hartford Plaza Hotel; riders cycling with downtown Hartford backdrop
With the threat of gas prices climbing to $5.00 a gallon this summer, bicycling participation is expected to further increase and presents the public with a safe, healthy and cost effective alternative to driving.
Between 2008 and 2010, participation in road bicycling grew from 41.5 to 42.3 million Americans.
Connecticut’s bicycling ranking is 44 out of the 50 states and is in need of bike paths, bike racks and pedestrian crosswalks.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nikki D’Addario, CGPR,, 781.639.4924, Ext. 118

As a member of the cycling press, I may be there to ask about disc brakes in 'cross or something.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What can't you move with a bike?

This has been my theme for the uncommonly warm Connecticut winter of 2011-2012.  Starting with a severely over taxed trailer trundling home a curb found  sleeper sofa, climaxing with a polyamorous Bike Move, and lingering on pleasantly with various solo cargo and free cycle pickups.

The right equipment helps.  You can carry a surprising amount with a rack on a standard bike, and a little bit more with a cargo specific bike, but if you really want to push the limits you'll need a bicycle trailer of the sturdy variety.  Preferably something with a rigid deck, lots of tie down hooks, and a raised platform of sorts to allow wide loads that would extend beyond the wheelbase.   The hitch needs to be sturdy, and attached in a way that won't rotate under load (and inta yer spokes).

A couple years ago I modified a Trek two-child trailer with a piece of plywood and a 40 gallon Rubbermaid.  The Rubbermaid bin acts as both a weather tight container and a raised platform for wide loads.  The modification was easy, and done in a single Saturday afternoon.  Nearly the perfect little cargo trailer, the only flaw is the hitch.  It's a cam locked strap around a pair of rubber coated clam shell pieces.  If not clamped super tight on a round chainstay it will rotate when the trailer is heavily loaded.  You'll see that for heavy loads I've augmented the clamping friction with a used bicycle tube.

Now on to the question of import, "What can't you move with a bike?"  Definitely not an elephant.  Maybe a small cow.  Seriously.  Some things lend themselves to bike transport more than others.  First, you've got a weight limit.  I've had ~200 lbs on my wee trailer, but that's getting to it's hairy edge for capacity.  When towing upwards of 100 lbs, everything needs to be perfectly balanced.  Now some trailers are designed with heavier duty hitches and frames.  Our illustrious Interstatement has one of these monsters - and that officially gets you up to 300 lbs, unless you blow an o-ring.  Interstatement's heavy duty Bikes at Work trailer was utilized to move my full size sleeper sofa.

There are also structural considerations when moving a load using a bicycle rack or trailer.  Big floppy stuff is hard to move.  Rigid things that can be stacked or non-rigid things that can be stuffed into Rubbermaid bins (see photo below) that then can be stacked are much easier to secure.  A fist full of bungee cords combined with one or two non-stretch load straps are usually enough to tie down a load.  I've carried loads on my small bike trailer that wouldn't fit into a typical SUV or your typical car trunk.  I grin smugly at passing, empty, single occupant SUV's when transporting large items with my bicycle.  Ha!

Here are some photos from my recent bicycle move from East Hartford to downtown Hartford.  Part of the move was with friends, but a good portion was solo trips over a couple of weeks.  A mid-week laden bicycle trailer was even the subject of some security department scrutiny at work.  I guess parking a bike trailer with a bike and bicycle frame strapped to the top could be misinterpreted (or correctly interpreted?) as a threat to Joe Lieberman and the greater military industrial complex.  Bikes Not Bombs, kiddos.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wild Spring Break

When I was in college, I had a job. Actually, I usually had a couple of jobs. So, when spring break came around, I just worked more hours. One time, I went for a hike, but that's pretty much the extent of my fun. Now, I don't have a job. So, this Spring Break I really cut loose M. Jodi Rell-style and had a staycation. I experience all the great things that Connecticut and a small part of Massachusetts have to offer.

I went kayaking:

I went to look at some hawks (six of them, but you can't see any in this picture.):

I went with Johanna to look at Connecticut from Massachusetts (it's off to the right):

I went to Tolland, but no picture is available. I went to Mohegan State Forest and Talbot Wildlife Management area, but no picture is available of that either.

I went to Food Not Bombs and visited the good folks there. I even ended up with the bread with a lot of grains that no one wanted.

I went to Colchester and rode on some secret trails. Since they were secret, I didn't take any pictures.

I also spent way too much timing playing with Strava on my phone getting nuts results of rides. Apparently, I hit 140mph on one. On this ride to the Blowhole, I hit 60!

Regrettably, I lost my favorite mini pump, broke my seat bag and broke the cover of the usb port on my light on the ride were I saw all the hawks. That ride was actually particularly miserable, because there was nasty crunchy snow cover along the Talcott/Penwood ridge. However, but Nite Rider and Jandd promised (Jandd has delivered) replacement parts to honor their warranties.

That's pretty much what I did. Read more!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No love for Jure Robic

Tony did an awesome job organizing the screening of Bicycle Dreams last night at the Wadsworth. I mean, to sell out a theater in Hartford with a movie about a bike race is an unmatched triumph. The movie was ok, I thought it was little boring. Although, considering it was a race in which the leader changed once, maybe the excitement wasn't in the attacks.

Anyway, my gripe with the evening was that no mention was made of poor Jure Robic's death. The guy ends up being the focal point of the movie, because he won in 2005 (year the film was shot). Maybe his was common knowledge in the audience, but I doubt it. The film itself ended up portraying him ok. At first, he was sort of the mechanistic enemy, but he got humanized at the end. Read more!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Detour de Connecticut "Basics" for 2012

To keep everyone informed of their opportunity to harm themselves on this years Detour de Connecticut, this is your heads up that the route for 2012 and other info is now posted on the ride's blog. Click it if you dare.

This is where deflated Mylar balloons go to be revered.

Also, thanks to Brendan for joining me for the last long recon mission yesterday, and for helping cut logs to cleans some of the new trail sections. We've decided to invent the PowerSaw hand saw with built in strain gauge to measure watts.
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Some Hartford voters

As part of the beat bike blog's ongoing civic engagement initiative, we're reminding you to go vote again. Today, we've got a Democratic Town Committee election, so if you're a Democrat in Hartford living in any district other than the 1st, it's time to go vote. Of course, there's been redistricting and changes in polling places, so it's really confusing. My polling place changed, but my district did not. Here's a Courant article that I believe correctly lists all the the slates and districts. There was a subsequent article that erroneously states that only three districts have elections, but that's not true. Here's a poorly concocted list of polling places put out by the Registrars' office. If you're still confused, call the Registrars' office at 8607579830.

The DTC wields a lot of power around here and the only check on them is the Working Families Party and occasionally some voters. Town committee elections generally have turn out in the mid-hundreds and these are the people that'll probably pick your state senator or representative. Of all the elections in which you vote counts, this is the one. Read more!

Friday, March 2, 2012

No need to write

Today, it was a ride of commuter bikes for people who don't have a job to which they can commute.

Also, I put the strava app on my phone and I never need to use adjectives to describe a ride again. I like that it gives me crazy top speeds. For instance, the snake bike and I hit 80 mph today! Check it out. Also, I don't like the idea of pausing it, because I want to record every detail, so my metrics include eating a few pieces of pizza and buying a six pack. Tons of watts.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

On why maybe I should become a NEMBA trail ambassador at the West Hartford Reservoir

I'm not much of technical rider, anybody can attest to that. Heck, I can't even ride backwards. Though like people better than I am, I enjoy a good cut of singletrack of moderate difficulty to ride. I've been riding at the West Hartford Reservoir since I was 11 and have seen trails evolve and mostly devolve and now I think that I have come to an understand of what happens to the poor trails there.

1) A stretch of cool single track comes into existence. The terrain at the Reservoir lends itself to good trails, so the trail might be pretty good.

2) Trails gets more popular, but it's hard. So, cheater lines and trail braids develop. However, sometimes a section was so difficult that a whole cheater trail develops.

3) Trail has become to decimated that it doesn't really have any good lines left and then people start adding stupid stunts to it. Why am I seeing people with chainsaws at the Reservoir now? I guess it's ok for maintenance, but I get the sense they're doing more than just that. Also, why are all these "jumps" so lumpy and misshapen?

I bring this up because there's newish trail that avoided a big mud pit (legitimately avoided it, it was wasn't one of those trail widening dealies). It had this tight hairpin that had a small ledge at the apex. I liked it, because it was difficult. Well, apparently most people who ride it found it too difficult and made this cheater trail that has become vastly more popular than the original trail. I tried blocking off the cheater line once, but my blocking was moved away.

There is one case where the trail degradation has helped. Someone attempted to make some bike park-esque thing off the the rt. 44 lot. It was terrible, all the "stunts" were really poorly constructed, to the point that they'd fall apart when ridden. The trail avoids them now for the most part. I guess it beats riding on the levee, but just barely.

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