A little late (or a lot) but here we go… BTWD 2013 was a great time with perfect weather and good riding. The plan was on rails: up early, stretch, quick snack, fill water bottle, and roll out of the driveway a little after 5:00am for a meetup with the Commissioner of DEEP, Dan Esty.
A funny thing happened… My dog got sprayed by a skunk at 4:30am! But, being that I am not new to this skunk-related fire drill, I was able to wash him down and get myself cleaned up in 30 minutes, and depart on time. A little smelly, but on-time.
On-Time was the operative phrase for this day. The Commissioners are intent on arriving at the Blue Back Square, West Hartford, CT meetup at a very reasonable 7:15am, if not earlier. Timing a 26 mile ride is easy if you can keep up a good pace. We averaged 14mph over 26 miles, and were among the first to arrive at the meetup. The ride was uneventful, with good camaraderie and cheer, and nothing unexpected. Since I am mostly a solo rider, it was an interesting change of pace to be in a small group. As with other group activities, I was seeing things like road surface, intersections, and auto traffic in a different light. When alone it is easy to get more of a flow, where in a group it is about keeping together while pacing, and still making sure that you aren’t leaving anyone in a bad spot v-v traffic or traffic control.
By staying in the Quinnipiac River valley we were able to cut down on the hills, but we also stayed in the shadows until the sun was really up. This photo was taken in Farmington, CT near the Hill-Stead Museum property. A nice cruise down Farmington Avenue, including that sweet downhill section where you want it the most, and we arrived for bigwig schmoozing and I made the epic mistake of wolfing down a garlic bagel. Rookie move… I smelled like an Olive Garden died in my mouth until the next day…
All was going swimmingly until the ride from West Hartford to State House Square, Hartford. This was not the police-guided ride of 2011, or even a normal group ride of experienced cyclists, but apparently a chance to be yelled at by strangers about obeying traffic signals! I am fine with rules of the road, but it was hard to take them seriously when we were confronted by a school bus running a red light at Boulevard and Sisson. Please: ride safe, ride smart, see and be seen, but believe me… anti-bike people will not convert because bike riders stop at every stopsign. Not a popular opinion with my friends at Bike Walk CT, but it is my opinion. Obeying that traffic light would have gotten me under the wheels of a big yellow school bus. At no time did I see the bus driver being shouted at by fellow motorists or scolded by any self-appointed school bus gestapo. But it was early. Who knows.
We had a little meet up at State House Square, saw some familiar faces, compared some ride notes, took a few photos and then started to make tracks back to our respective jobs… The morning was wrapping up nicely, and then… on the ride back to the office, THIS happened:
We were joined by current Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra as we waited for a chance to cross the road. He rode with us across Main Street and down Pearl, toward Trumbull, until realizing that we were not going anywhere near City Hall, and promptly split off on his own. And we were trying so hard to be nice, and not make any caviar jokes (Hartford news thing). But we had been joined by Mr. Mayor and it was a nice sight. However it happens, it is good to see civic leaders out on the streets and not just being limo’d around town. Enough of that kind of activity and maybe they can see how vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians are in their cities.
I made the ride home after work, tweaking my route to attempt to avoid some bad roads and intersections, but it still needs work. Downtown Newington (Main and Cedar) is a very bad place to be on a bike at any time. More so in the drive-time afternoon. As referenced in my previous post, Newington is a bad place to ride a bike, and it will get worse before it gets better because users of the CT Fastrak bike path will be riding to and from Newington Station on these same unimproved road shoulders with no safe way to get to their destination. But I digress (or was this post a digression from grouching about bad roads for bikes?)
All in all, a successful Bike To Work Day 2013, and a great way to kick off the fair-weather bike commuting season!