Monday, July 22, 2013

Making Connections in September

When do you make connections?   In the shower.  Under pressure.  While meditating.  Mile 60 of a century. I think we all have different spaces and situations where the pieces seem to fall into their seemingly predestined places.  Personally, the half hour I typically spend between sleeping and waking, particularly on the waking end, is the most productive.  Over the last week the thought nugget I've been churning has been the upcoming Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour.   The core tour committee has formed, and we are digesting the unexpected awesomeness that appears to be coming together on the weekend of September 20th through 22nd.

Not only has the Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour been scheduled on Saturday, September 21st, but there are bookending bicycle events on Friday and Sunday.  The Real Ride is aiming for Friday, and the downtown criterium races are planned for Sunday.  What!?  A three day bicycle weekend descending on the Hart-beat?  Yes.  The first question is, how does one successfully publicize a three-fold, weekend event like this?   The second question is, how can these three events combine and complement each other in the framework of fundraising and sponsorship.  Each event is quite different but still connected by the common mechanism of the humble bicycle.  

The Real Ride has a loyal following of Real Art Ways folks, and realistically with its current embodiment couldn't handle more than 300 riders.  That said the Real Ride has some "real" draw beyond the confines of Hartford metro.  Aficionados of lighted, urban night rides have attended from New Haven, Northampton, and Boston.  Initially I'm thinking of the Friday night Real Ride as an insiders' pre-party for the rest of the weekend.   Bike Walk CT could send a special invitation to the volunteers that won't have the opportunity to ride due to their Saturday duties.  Any indirect publicity beyond that already done via Facebook and the Real Art Ways website will bring in a few more folks, but the majority of the publicity will focus on the Discover Hartford Tour and the criterium races.

The Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour is a welcome reincarnation of the Hartford Parks Tour, as a fun / fundraiser ride for Bike Walk Connecticut.  Started in 2007 the Discover Hartford Tour blew back into town under the angel wings of Allan Williams.  Last year's 2012 tour was the most smoothly run, but unfortunately ran afoul of the weather gods and didn't get the day of registration that was hoped for.  This year, registration is open a month earlier.  The weather gods hate procrastinators, so get your ass registered early.  The Tour showcases the parks and hidden gems of Hartford, while promoting cycling as both recreation and transportation.  The audience for the tour is vast as there are 10, 25, and 40 mile routes.  The 10 mile route is perfect for less experienced cyclists and families.  The 25 mile route is the most popular and hits the parks in Hartford.  If you need more mileage, the 40 mile route leaves Hartford and samples other nearby communities - which have yet to be announced.  Each year the route gets switched up a bit.  There are cue sheets and the turns are marked / signed to keep you from getting lost.   So that you don't get confused and try to race, Bike Walk CT has rest stops and there is a list of historic sites and things you'll see.  You will at times stop and look around to take it all in - and that's OK.  Save the fast riding for Sunday's criterium.

The Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour is partnered with the Hartford Envisionfest.  Envisionfest is in its second year, and last year set the bar high.  After the tour, there are oodles of FREE things to do within easy walking and biking distance.  It's the whole package!  The burbites will be seething with jealousy, once they get done enjoying themselves of course.

And if you need a speed fix, either riding or spectating, Sunday, September 22nd is the inaugural Connecticut Cycling Festival.  Featuring an "electrifying nine turn course" and a sizable purse for winners, purported to be $15,000.  The official USA Cycling event will include races fit for novices, experts, and pros.  There will be a cycling expo that is sure to have vendors supplying the next best thing for your bike, diet, or saddle sores.  I haven't raced for ages, but I'll enjoy sitting in a shady spot along the course watching the spandex heroes riding in circles - some on bikes that cost as much as a good used car.

I'm not kidding folks.  This weekend in September is overwhelming.  How do we connect these events?  How should we connect the most riders to the registration?  Do you ever feel disconnected, when everything around you seems to be connected?

The following photos were captured while I was testing out a potential 40 mile route this past weekend.  (1) There was a big flood and humankind suffered.  (2) Humans triumphed over nature using machinery and technology.  (3) Man spends the rest of forever holding back the waters in Sisyphean fashion.  These curiously detailed panels were on an otherwise nondescript pumping station just a little ways off the route.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hartford artist mutilates mountain bikes and makes cool art

Victor Pacheco is a cool guy. You may have noticed some of his murals on and around Park Street, his giant guiro and tables at La Paloma, or maybe went to the shows he had around here before he moved to New York with his wife. I don't remember how I happened upon this, but apparently he has made sculptures out of SRAM components. Check it out. Read more!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Secret Art in Hartford

Sad?  Resigned?  Bored?
Freedom or security?
Day of the Dead
Ambling around the less traveled Hartford by foot and by bike, one finds amazing works of graffiti art.  The best pieces often the least accessible or exposed.  I find this really interesting.  It's as if those that wander off the beaten path in urban Hartford get rewarded with private viewing of secret art.  I'm thinking that wasn't necessarily the goal of the artist.  Most graffiti is put up without permission and under threat of vandalism and  trespassing charges.  Putting the piece up in a seldom used train tunnel gives the artist much more time than what could be slapped up on a visible overpass or abandoned building facing the street.  The artist has time to layer, add detail, and go large.  If they don't like something, they can fix it.

Another interesting aspect of graffiti art in Hartford and some other cities, is when the previously illicit art, honed in the shadows, becomes an accepted art form and finds its way onto buildings as advertising and decoration.  When graffiti is seen for the value it adds, instead of the value it detracts - and it can do both.  Park Street has several "legal" graffiti based signs and art, as does Homestead.  I recently came across a huge piece on Windsor Street.   Certain entrepreneurs, public organizations, and arts organizations have identified the talent and recognized the visual draw of well executed urban art.  Every time I pass Pelican on Park Street, the Sophia Maldonado work on the front of the building makes me want to get a tattoo, and someday I'll actually do it.

You may have seen these modified crosswalk signs around town.
Hartford has a little slice of Heaven for lovers of graffiti art.  Its actually called Heaven, and this legal graffiti zone / park is located just north of downtown Hartford.  If you haven't been there, you are missing a dynamic art hot zone.  Pieces may last a week, or several months.  There are small quirky works and stencils and huge sprawling burners and artworks taking up entire walls.  The Hartford Graffiti ride that I'm doing on Friday, July 19th starts (@ 7:30PM) and ends at Heaven.  If you show up, make sure you bring fat tires, pumps, and spare tubes.

*** The Hartford Graffiti Ride has been subsumed by the RAW Real Ride due to rescheduling of that event for the same evening.  Still riding, but starting from Real Art Ways on Arbor Street.  Meet at 6PM, and roll when it starts to get dark. ***

This bee was hanging out in Heaven a couple weeks ago, but he's gone now.
A friend from Urbana, IL just forwarded me a photo of a Kickstarter funded public art piece in an underused and previously boring alleyway.  This is a great business model for public art in times of contracting municipal budgets!  Find a building owner with a vacant and boring wall, pitch them an idea for a piece, start a kickstarter campaign to pay the artist.  Graffiti artists that had been forced to do their best work in secret could make some inroads into exposed public spaces, with the time needed to put up the best - and get paid.

Found this unexpectedly well populated wall in Stafford Springs.
Heads up to Tavis / Skan duo (or someone that knows them can give them my contact info).  I've seen a lot of your work and chatted with a certain arts organization.  What would you think of a Kickstarter type campaign and piece on a large wall associated with the arts organization?  I would love to help make this connection and could even help with the Kickstarter stuff.  Drop me a line either through Beat Bike Blog, or you can email me directly (acherolis at

Nice burner by the river.  

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