Discover Hartford by Foot and by Bike

There’s more than a one in four chance that if you are reading this blog, you have ridden a bike some time in the last year. If statistics hold true, then it’s also more likely that you’re riding for recreation than for commuting to work or school. More importantly, if you’ve made it here, then you are probably interested in riding your bicycle around Hartford, and if not, then walking will do just fine.

That’s great because September 11, 2010 is the Third Discover Hartford Bicycling and Walking Tour — an event designed to show off the city, get off the sofa, and have fun. Because Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance changed its name to Bike Walk CT, more emphasis is being placed on the pedestrian aspect this time around. For those who do not ride or want another activity, there will be historical walking tours.

This year’s event is will feature four different 1.5 mile walking tours and several options for cyclists — 10, 25, or 40 mile loops. The 40 mile route includes an excursion to Hartford-owned Batterson Park in Farmington/New Britain. All routes begin and end in Bushnell Park, where one can partake in after-ride festivities.

The ride begins at 9:15. Check-in starts at 7:00. Based on past experience, I recommend going through the check-in process sooner than later, especially if you want to make sure you get a swag bag.

Discover Hartford Bicycling and Walking Tour is dubbed an “anti-sprawl, pro-fun, pro-sustainable city, anti-pollution, anti-couch potato, pro-bicycle pro-pedestrian event” and is not a race. Even though most photos show people decked out in racing gear, such things, except for the helmet, are not necessary. Typically, when I ride, I wear my regular clothes — skirt, trousers, jeans, what have you. Because it is most definitely not a race, there is no reason to feel intimidated by those who are dressed like they are going to one. If you’re still not certain, there are plenty of websites devoted to explaining how to ride in the rain, wear a suit while biking, ride in heels and a skirt, ride in higher heels, and even more on how to ride in a skirt. Step away from the Lance Armstrong and accept that regular people wearing regular outfits can get on a regular bike — even if all the magazines and websites you’ve been reading make it sound like you need to immediately invest in specialty gear and get yourself on some weird diet regiment.

This event is rain or shine. If you’ve never cycled in the rain before, the only thing you need to know is that it is like driving in the rain– you need to give yourself more time/distance to brake. It’s not like driving in the rain because you will get wet.

Bring your own water bottle for refills along the ride. There will be bike mechanics to help, but organizers suggest carrying your own tire pump. A helmet is required for those cycling in the event. If you do not wish to wear a helmet, there are walking tours which do not require head gear.

There is a fee attached to this, but before I get to that, I will say that it is completely legitimate to ride the streets of Hartford without paying anything to anybody. You could do that if you only want to take part in the group ride experience; however, coughing up money will entitle you to some tangible items: fruit, snack bars, water, t-shirt, map, and use of the SAG wagon should you need it. Bike Walk CT is an advocacy group for cyclists and pedestrians, so you can think of your registration fee as a donation in that way too. If you are an adult who waits until the last minute to register, then expect to pay $45. Adults who are not Bike Walk CT members can pay $35 if they register early (before August 9). Youth are charged $15. Riding with a “team” will also grab you a discounted price. The walking tour is $25 for non-Bike Walk CT members. You can register online before September 9, by mail before September 3rd, or in person on the day of the event. There is a processing fee for online registration.

For more information, visit the Discover Hartford Bicycling & Walking Tour website.

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