August 23, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 11:05 PM EST
The official CCBA Discover Hartford logo.
Just my luck - the best bicycling event to hit Hartford in five years and I will be out of town.
But don't let that stop you from riding to the Discover Hartford Bicycle and Walking Tour on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, organized by the Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance (of which I used to be a board member, so this is a shameless plug for you to ride your bicycle, stop your carbon emissions and support this ride).
You can register online at Hartfordbiketour.org to do either a 10 mile loop, a 25 mile loop or a 2.5 mile walking tour. Register early, because costs go up from $37 to $42 after September 2. (Actually, it is less expensive if you are a CCBA member, so join and get the discount).
On event day, registration starts at 7 am, and the tour first leaves Bushnell Park at 9:15 am, and waves will continue depart every quarter hour or so until 10:30, according to website.
For those who are expecting the old Hartford Parks Bike Tour, think different. At first glance, the route passing through Colt, Keney, Pope, Elizabeth, and Goodwin Parks, as well as Riverfront Recapture makes it seem similar. But any bicycle tour has to include those because those are the gems of Hartford.
Tour organizer Allan Williams has changed the order, and thrown in some new twists and sights that showcase the bicycle friendly nature of the city of Hartford. For instance, he put riders in front of the redeveloped Colt building, the Learning Corridor and then Trinity College and its new hockey rink.
I think it was wise to send the route down Fairfield Avenue, as well. After Goodwin Park, the route heads to the south Branch of the Park River on Brookfield Street. After Park Street, the 10 mile route heads back to Bushnell, and the 25 mile route heads north.
It goes to Elizabeth Park then Scarborough, (look at the rich people houses! In the poorest city in Connecticut), then, the best part of the tour: the famous $20,000 kitchen cabinets and granite countertops of Eddie Perez on Bloomfield Avenue.
Of course, the city of Hartford is a ride sponsor, so I'm hoping that the Mayor will open his doors to show us all the quality carpentry he took two years to pay for. He probably won't be home that day, though, as the big primary is only three days after the tour.
It would probably be smart for other mayoral wanna-be's to sign up for the ride, and show how much they support a bicycle-friendly city.
And it would be an opportunity for politicians to look at the North Branch of the Park River after Eddie's Home Improvement. I am sure that the Park River Watershed Group, one of the event partners, loves the idea that thousands of eyes will witness the gorgeous above-ground portions of the Park River, as much as I do.
It is expected that the 10 mile bike tour will take 1-3 hours, and the 25 mile Bike Tour from 2-5 hours. All participants should return to Bushnell Park by 2 PM.
More than 50 volunteers will staff the event.
Williams sent an email that read like a poem, explaining why people should ride:
"Bicycling as exercise
Bicycling as anti-sprawl
Bicycling as freedom
Bicycling as pro city
Bicycling as a way to better understand your surroundings
Bicycling as a way to better connect city and suburbs."
If that doesn't pump your tires, tune your spokes to the fact that Williams has recruited about 58 community organizations to support the ride.
"It is perhaps the most culturally diverse event of its kind," Williams said.
Everyone from the Hispanic Health Council to the Mark Twain House to Real Art Ways is on board. Not only that, but the Travelers has given a $10,000 donation to get the ride off the ground, according to Anne Hayes, a CCBA board member, who is the director of parking and mass transit at the Travelers.
Even the MetroHartford Alliance has been supportive, Hayes said.
"They mentioned us in their remarks at the recent Rising Star breakfast at the Bushnell," Hayes said.
So, get out there, fix up your bicycle and Discover Hartford.