Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sorry, guys

I know that votes were tallied and it said I was supposed to go ride the D2R2 again this year despite my dithering. However, I'm too broke and $125 is too steep for a bike ride. I mean it's not like anyone wants to ride with me anyway. I know that it benefits all sorts of nice parts of Massachusetts, so maybe when I'm not so broke, I'll go do it again.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Take me to the River

*** The RAW Real Ride has been rescheduled for Friday July 19th.  Similar timing, but there won't be fireworks.  The fireworks are on July 18th, which unfortunately fell on the evening of Creative Cocktail Hour at RAW. ***

Real Ride VII - Take me to the River.  Saturday, July 6th.  Meet at Real Art Ways.  Bike Decorating at 6PM.  Ride leaves at 8PM.  Fireworks at 9PM.

The ride will leave from Real Art Ways on Arbor Street and wend its way down to the Connecticut River in time to watch the fireworks.  After the fireworks finish, the group will ride back.  Note that this ride will be on city streets, and there will be traffic.  On the return trip the roads will be chock full of stop and go traffic.  That said, the bikes are a much more efficient (both space and fuel) way to get to the fireworks.

It's a leisurely 8-10 mile ride round trip.  Bring your lights, more is better.  Some folks are basically mobile Christmas trees, or more seasonally, battery powered firework displays.  There will be music, or bring your own.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crazy bike ride!

Glimpse of a bear. Just discovered that my phone makes animated gifs if you take the pictures in rapid enough succession. 

I went for a crazy bike ride two days ago. I rode up to the Reservoir on my 'cross bike. I knew there would probably be a storm, but I was hoping that it would only be five minutes of rain like it was the day before. It held until just north of the MDC office at Reservoir 6 and then was a big storm. My phone apparently makes these angry weather alert sounds now. I keep thinking they're alerts that my phone has been infiltrated by water because the plastic bag I was using got a hole in it. Nope, just weather alerts. There are always "areal flood warning[s]" these days.

Anyway, there was one of those flashes of lightning/instant thunder/hair standing up (out of fear or static electricity? who knows?) things. Then, I got a stick in my derailleur. I bent back the hanger, but I need a new one again. I go through a lot of hangers. Singlespeed really is the way to go.

After that, a bear crossed right in front of me! Totally the closest I've ever been to a bear. It didn't seem to notice me. I was under the powerlines right where the blue-red trail goes back into the woods. It ambled across the path, went through the brush and back into the woods. They aren't very graceful walkers and when they don't see you they don't have a very intimidating presence.

Then I rode through Penwood and eventually ended up in way north Bloomfield in this warren of trails north of Day Hill Road along the river. Eventually, I followed this dirt road to a fence that told me I was in some environmental clean up area. Or a superfund. I think if you don't ride into the superfund site, you might be able to connect to Northwest Park. If you're nice to me, I'll show you where these are.

Mysterious Farmington River Park of Bloomfield. Following Hartford's lead, it seemed to be made for ATVs and dirtbikes.

Also, I saw a copperhead.
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Monday, June 17, 2013

Can you handle more graffiti?

Because if you can't, that's okay.  Regardless, I'll be riding around on Friday,  July 19th looking at notable urban art.  Hartford has amazing graffiti, if you know where to look. Following the train tracks yesterday I stumbled across these hidden gems.  Unfortunately the works shown below won't be on the bike ride, as the extended length of sketchy, rough train tracks would be punishing.  That said, the ride may include some short segments of train tracks and off road riding.  Fat tires will be appreciated, and spare tubes / patch kits invaluable.

The informal bicycle wander will meet and end at Heaven, a well used and dynamic legal graffiti zone just north of downtown Hartford on Main Street.  Meeting at 6:30PM and shoving off by 7PM.  Brendan is working with folks to get a skate park built at heaven to complement the existing vibe and give the kids something to do.  After the ride I'll be heading over to Sully's for Past\\Forward.

Disclaimer - This is not an organized ride.  In fact I guarantee that it will be very disorganized.  I'm not sure how far I'll be riding, but expect to be back at Heaven 1-2 hours from when I shove off.   There is no cue sheet, and I don't plan on watching out for your safety.  If for some reason you choose to ride around and look at graffiti, it is of your own free will and you are assuming the risks inherent in riding your bike on roads, various terrains, around other vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

If you missed it, I've heard there is an Alley Cat planned for June 22nd.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Polysemous Cyclists

Dario took the bait and here is the responding guest post.  Let's roll this idea around a bit more.


     Tony's eloquent post (Sun., June 9, 2013) launching from verses by Wallace Stevens and landing on a topic, sustainability, which is dear and near to beatbikeblog readers seems at first a stretch. But as I re-read his post, I begin to see interconnections that I think we can develop further. If Stevens did indeed compose his lines while walking to work in the morning and back home in the evening, he wouldn't be the first peripatetic philosopher-poet in Western civilization. Homer, Dante, and Whitman immediately come to mind. But there are so many others. All of them great travelers. Stevens perhaps less so, although he didn't need to travel as far and wide in order to gain perspective on the world. Like Dante, Stevens is a keen observer of the small, the incidental, and of happenstance. For both poets, nothing, however, is ever really small, incidental, or just the result of happenstance. Everything is pregnant with meaning. The "thin men", the "blackbirds", the "golden birds" from the seventh stanza of Steven's Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird are polysemous, that is, they can mean many things to many people.

    Imagine Mr. Stevens who was quietly but fervently skeptical of absolute and universal belief systems walking along Asylum Ave. thinking such thoughts. At the time of the poem's publication in 1917, Stevens had recently taken up his post at The Hartford insurance company. World War I was raging. Bolsheviks were taking over Russia. Labor strife in the United States. Revolutionary ideas. Hartford with its history of craftsmanship and industry and also finance was a flourishing city. But not all was golden. Stevens was politically conservative, but he was a radical thinker nonetheless. He had a deep sense of the overarching paradox of our lives that bind all of us together, rich and poor. Of necessity, the poor have to enjoy the "little things" in life. But conversely, if the rich cannot or are unwilling to see the grandeur in the small and in the ordinary, then they are blind and truly impoverished. Lao Tzu reminds us: "Have little and you will gain./Have much and you will be confused."
     In his post Tony writes: "If you want to live a happy and sustainable life, it seems important that we recognize our nearby and local treasures." I'd argue more forcefully: "Without cherishing our surroundings we cannot endure." This is why walking through Hartford (as Wallace Stevens did) and cycling through its streets (like the beatbike bloggers often do ) is necessary and not just important. Without assiduously casting our gaze in purposeful seeing (analogous to the way we view works of art, let's say, or the famous sights of the world's great cities) can we ever fully appreciate where we live? I'm reminded of this question, Tony, when on our rides we see a side of Hartford not seen by many others. The actual experience of seeing is often a catalyst for the imagination and, vice-versa, the imagination inspires our ways of seeing things. Sustainability and, more ideally, happiness require the use of imagination. Perhaps Wallace Stevens didn't need to walk along Hartford's streets in order to create his introspective art. Perhaps he saw the thin men in his mind all along or maybe while walking he saw all too many thin men (real ones and metaphorical ones) that inspired his poetry. For beatbike bloggers, cycling is a catalyst of the imagination and of our own individual sustainability.

Any other aspiring literary cyclists out there in Hartford or regions further?  If so, how goes your appreciation of blackbirds?  Does your imagination seem to be sustainable?  Are you feeling anti-social
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Social Lives

I used to go out a lot. I'd go to events, I'd go to bars, I'd go to parties and I'd go to other things. Then, I started riding a bike a lot more frequently. Since then, I've realized I don't make new friends who don't ride bikes. I try, but the problem comes when it comes to mutual activities. I like to drink beers with the best of them, but I find that I like to do so early, because I usually go to bed on the early side.

Last night for example, Johanna wanted to watch some throne game show. I find that show to be tedious. Instead of going to the bar or calling up my friends to do that. I decided to go on an extreme urban awesome ride trickfest* to blur lines between being 13 and 30.

I've kept my old friends from before I became a bike weirdo, although I almost lost one when I took him on a ride in Vermont a few weeks ago.

* I rode down some stairs. Read more!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

O thin men of Hartford

I was struck by the Wallace Stevens stanza while perusing Real Hartford's latest photos of the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

     O thin men of Haddam,
     Why do you imagine golden birds?
     Do you not see how the blackbird
     Walks around the feet
     Of the women about you?

Not sure why, but I thought is was both funny and relevant.  Mr. Stevens was an insurance company executive at The Hartford, but also found time to write poetry.  I've been told much of the poetry was composed while walking the couple miles to and from work.  The historical markers are way points on his route.  If you watched the Hartford-centric indie film Rising Star, you'll recall that the nuanced sledge hammer message of the movie that one can have both a profession and a passion.  If the passion isn't the profession, the separate passion doesn't have to be extinguished or left to wither.  Make your bread, but don't lose your fire.  If you reach too ardently after the golden bird, you may find yourself lacking in depth and short on joy.

The movie also seemed to imply that you could walk all of Hartford in a leisurely afternoon.  I would be interested in seeing a route of the scenes on a Google map and with calculated mileage.  There is a difference between suspending disbelief and believing in the absolutely ridiculous.  I imagine that the local audience is supposed to take the exhaustive walking tour of Hartford as an inside joke.

The golden bird may be an idealized goal, or simply cold hard cash.  In chasing the hard to reach and living the commercially promoted life we forget that within walking (or biking distance) of our home and place of employment there are countless blackbirds possessing their own singular beauty, overlooked perhaps with familiarity or prejudice.  Within a life that isn't gilt there are still opportunities to find happiness.  This is a valuable lesson for Connecticut and those living or working in the Hartford metro region.  If we want to live a happy and sustainable life, it seems important that we recognize our nearby and local treasures.  Culturing an appreciation for blackbirds may both simplify and expand our lives.

Dario - I expect this will give you some inspiration.  Perhaps a guest post?  

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Show up. Get herd. This Saturday.

The following just showed up in my inbox.  The topic is near and dear to your heart, and it's an opportunity to show up on a damn bike and shout Complete Streets.  Who's with me?  I'm planning to pack a picnic lunch.


Congressman John B. Larson &
Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Invite you to a Transportation & Infrastructure Forum

With a variety of landmark legislation facing the 113th Congress, it is crucial that Connecticut be kept at the forefront of the national discussion on transportation and infrastructure. Larson is hosting Chairman Shuster to discuss local, statewide and national issues including the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the East Hartford-Hartford levee systems, aviation, mass transit and other Connecticut transportation and infrastructure issues.


  • Congressman John B. Larson
  • Congressman Bill Shuster, Chair of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
  • Congresswoman Elizabeth H. Esty, member, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
  • Congressman Joe Courtney
  • James P. Redeker, Commissioner of CT Transportation 
  • Representatives from the transportation and construction industries
  • Members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation

Where & When?
Riverfront Boathouse, 20 Leibert Road, Hartford, CT 06120
Saturday, June 8th, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

RSVP HERE OR CALL 860-278-8888


This will be a well spent Saturday morning, and I've been looking for a reason to pack a picnic lunch.  The monsoon rains will have passed and we can bask a bit in the sun after making a statement (with a rack full of bikes) and making some noise (by asking intelligent forum questions that shape the conversation).

See y'all there. Read more!

Friday, June 7, 2013

BREAKING: New York Times steals Beat Bike Blog's awesome idea from like four years ago

Critical infrastructure in Vermont.

Joel came up with this cool idea a few years ago of an annotated bike map for the Hartford region. It never really got finished, but it was a cool idea.
View BeatBikeBlog Critical Infrastructure and Key Facilities in a larger map

Obviously when looking for cool story ideas due to the return of bike interest in New York, they checked back issues of the beat bike blog and found our map, hired slick graphic designers and made this thing. While it may look much better and be in New York, it's basically the same as Joel's map. This is almost as bad as the time that spam blog stole all our posts. Read more!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

D2R2 poll

D2R2 is coming up again. Should I ride it? I can't decide.

I haven't been paying to ride things so far this year. I haven't even renewed my USAC license.

So, vote on the right. Read more!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hot Mess

Rolled around this morning, through the Southwest corner of Hartford.  Up through Cedar Hill Cemetery and by the huge Tilcon quarry.  Poked around over in Newington looking for cut throughs and not so closed roads.  Then back to Hartford for some Puerto Rican Day Parade madness - the loudest street event I have ever experienced.

Bring your reclining seats.  
It's a long way down. 
Did you know that Hartford is the home of the inventor of surgical anesthesia, Horace Wells?  There was an article in this Sunday's Courant and by odd chance I rode by the monument for this famous addict in the Cedar Hill Cemetary.  The three bronze panels read (1) I sleep to awaken, (2) I shall feel no pain, and (3) I awaken to glory.  The feminine figures on the plaques are surrounded by poppies.

I sleep to sleep.  Not sure what Horace was thinking.
Knock out sauce.
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