Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gainesville, we have asphalt!

Paving of the 91st Street section of Archer Braid Trail through Haile Plantation began today and by 1700 (5:00 pm) was nearing completion. Final preparation has also been done on most of the Trail paralleling Haile Blvd (SW 45th Blvd) and preliminary grading completed along the section passing by Haile Equestrian Center.
Let there be asphalt
Looking north on SW 91st Blvd from Archer Road.

Construction at intersection transition points along the entire route and at the intersection at SW 91st Street and Haile Blvd. is underway.
Transitions at intersections

Minimal work has been done on the portion of the Trail that will parallel Tower Road to Kanapaha Park. Because of the southbound right turn lane on Tower Road the Trail will be narrow after turning north at the intersection of Haile Blvd and Tower Road then becoming wider after passing beyond the right turn lane. A similar situation exists at SW 91st Street and Haile Blvd.
Tower Road righ turn lane at Haile Blvd
Right turn lane on southbound Tower Road at Haile Blvd

Haile Blvd and SW 91st Street intersection
Intersection of Haile Blvd with SW 91st  Street

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Paving WILL begin!

Paving equipment is ready and sod has been placed along SW 91st Street. Curbing has been removed at each of the intersections along SW 46th Blvd. except for the intersection at SW 81st Terrace west of Haile Equestrian Center. The section from SW 81st Terrace to Tower Road will be paved when grading over recently installed drainage is completed.
Paving ready to begin on SW 91st Street

Sod rolld out on SW 91st Street

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

And Maybe Next Week!

Last week Bob's Barricades appeared along SW 41st Place announcing the next big step toward completion of Archer Braid Trail.
Archer Braid Trail at Kanapaha Park
Excavation for the section of ABT that will run from Tower Road to GRU's Water Reclamation Facility has begun.
ABT at Kanapaha Park
When the entire project is completed Kanapaha Park will be a natural starting point for family rides to Haile Village.

ABT has become an integral part of Gainesville's bicycling community. The wooded 1.5 miles beginning at the trail head in Archer has been embraced by its citizens and it is common to see families strolling, skating and riding along that section.

The real news, though, is that paving may begin next week and will encompass all of SW 91st Street to SW 46th Blvd. and much of SW 46th Blvd. as far as the short section passing in front of Haile's Equestrian Center. The final piece of the Trail has not yet been started; parallel to Tower Road from SW 46th Blvd. to SW 41st Place.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seeking your FNBS

I intended to complete this discussion about bike shops a week ago, but FĂștbol interfered. This is the second World Cup to which I have given more than casual attention and it’s returned a favor with numerous outstanding matches and remarkable moments.

Championship athletic competition on a high level is always appealing. I can recall being captivated by Arnie hitching up his trousers as he took on Augusta National when I had no prior interest in golf. I try to not miss at least some part of The Masters. In July, of course, Tour de France will provide an even more compelling distraction so I need to finish the first half of the bike shop discussion now!

In the May edition of “Senior Times” I wrote about becoming a bike rider whether as someone resuming a long-ago activity or as something new for recreational and fitness reasons. I suggested that one of the best ways to acquire a suitable bike for the commencement of a two-wheeled journey is to visit a bike shops and talk to people who can assist in sorting through the wide variety of bikes now available; back in the 50s and 60s the selection was very limited in small-town America.

At my local Publix I was asked by someone who recognized me from the picture included among the Contributors whether there was a preferred bike shop in town, specifically, what was my FNBS (Friendly Neighborhood Bike Shop)? Choosing a shop to take care of your ride is highly subjective and that’s what I related to the man who asked the question.

The only way to find the right shop with the right bike, whether as newbie or redux, is to talk to the people inside their doors. As a prospective bicycle rider you should have answers to some relevant questions before setting out on a bike quest.

1.    How well do you ride?
2.    What do you want to accomplish?
3.    What kind of riding do you think you want to do?
4.    What’s your budget?

There’s one other thing you need to ask of yourself: How likely are you to stick with riding a bike if it turns out to be more difficult that you thought? If you have a personal history of plunging into something (buying all the equipment, taking all the classes, finding all the places) only to give it up and be left with regret and chose, pants, brushes and other useless but painful reminders of one more zealous obsession gone bad.

Riding a bike, even casually, requires regular physical effort. If you don’t try to develop fitness and skill the bike will be relegated to the back porch, yard or craigslist.

I wondered how bike shops (other than my FNBS) would deal with a Senior Citizen who wants to begin riding. At each of the first five shops I have visited, Bike Works, Gator Cycle, Schwinn Shop, Swift Cycle and Chain Reaction (There are four yet to be visited) the person or people to whom I spoke wanted to know the same basic information related the questions posed above. At none of the shops will you find someone pushing you toward a bike unsuited to your wants and needs. Instead, they may try to convince you that your wants exceed your needs (and abilities), but their goals were all about getting a good match.

Each shop sells one or more brands of bikes and every brand has a wide range of style options. For many older, wanna-be bike riders an upright, step-through frame bike is often the best first choice. Bikes that might have been called “girls’ bikes” in our long ago past are more properly called “open frame” and are not gender specific. They are wholly suitable for a new, older rider where swinging an aging leg over the back of a bike might exceed current physical ability.

Cycle Works
Bike Works
2300 SW 34th Street, Gainesville, FL 32608
Only Bike Works did not have such as a step through model available on-site, though their primary brand, Giant, does make “Lifestyle/City” models in both step-through, open and traditional frames. Additionally, they also carry a line of Beach Cruisers from Phat Cycle and such bikes a popular with us old folk.

Tony of Bike Works responded to an email I sent asking if I had been accurate in my brief assessment of Bike Works. He said that not only have they added some bikes of the sort I had hoped to see, but that Giant had dropped the price of 30 of their most popular models by 20 to 30 percent. Additionally, they have developed several videos relevant to ordinary care and maintenance which could be useful to both new and regular riders. These are available on their website.

Gator Cycle
Gator Cycle
3321 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608
Gator Cycle may be the most familiar name in G’ville and its leading brand, Trek, is one of the most well-known brands. When it comes to diverse styles, Trek makes just about everything, including entry level upright, city-type bikes, and Gator probably has some in stock. Another in-stock option that Gator offers is recumbent bikes which are suitable for someone with physical limitations. They’re beyond the scope of this brief treatment, but worth investigating.

Schwinn Shop
Schwinn Shop
1225 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
The Schwinn Shop’s bike lines include suitable “elder bikes.” Maybe more so than Trek, Schwinn is an iconic name. It is not the Schwinn of old, but neither are the Schwinns sold in bike shops the same as those sold in big box department stores.

A moment here about big box bike, those from Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart; they may not cost much, but they come with none of the assurance you get from a local bike shop if something fails, breaks or needs adjusting. Another moment . . . this time about craigslist; stolen bikes often find their way to craigslist and like big box bikes, repairs may require using a local bike shop. You also have even less recourse regarding failure, breakage and adjustments. Any bike acquired from other than a bike shop should be taken to a shop for a thorough examination. Failing brakes really suck.

Swift Cycle
Swift Cycle
607 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
Swift, the new shop in town, despite its initial boutique appearance is as serious as other shops and has a diverse selection of styles in-stock. Breezer, one of their main brands, offers a line of “Town” bikes from which it’d be easy to find a suitable ride.

Chain Reaction
Chain Reaction Bike Shop
1630 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603
The last shop in this group is Chain Reaction. Being across University Avenue from UF adds a significant positive to it a good place to look for your first venture into riding; used bikes. Like all the rest, Chain Reaction has a line of bikes (Jamis) from which you can find a suitable ride, but if money is an object a used bike might be a best option. Why Chain Reaction? Student turnover. Kids come and kids go and lots of their bikes go to Chain Reaction. The people there will let you know that their used bikes carry a year’s worth of service, as do their consignment bikes. Think of it like craigslist without a downside. Yeah, the price might be more, but the bike will likely be of higher quality and will last a lot longer. There’s also the practical value of being able to trade them a bike they know for a new one.

I hadn’t bothered to mention that each of the listed bike shops has at least one fulltime mechanic, but after you acquire a bike having a mechanic you trust becomes very important; chains wear out, wheels need to be made true and brakes need to be adjusted. Being able to get your bike serviced timely and competently matters and makes it the “customer service after the sale” that is most important.

You probably cannot find a bad bike shop in G’ville because there’s abundant competition. It’s like this; if you visit a bike shop looking for information and the people with whom you interact don’t make you feel comfortable, go somewhere else. When you see someone with a bike, talk to him or her about bikes and shops. Bike riders tend to be pretty passionate about riding and like to share information. The more people you talk to the more you will know. More people on two-wheels is a good thing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Archer Braid Trail through Haile update

"Sometime in July" is still the anticipated completion of  Archer Braid Trail's extension through Haile Plantation. Construction was hindered by problems with "drainage and clay" but is moving more smoothly now. Only one native has been restless during the construction assuring the workers each morning as she drives by that they are Number One. This is in dramatic contrast to the brouhaha which accompanied ABT's planning stages.

Construction of the section of the Trail paralleling Tower Road is unlikely to be completed "sometime in July" but there is increasing evidence of preliminary engineering work being done with the appearance of stakes identifying the location of the Trail as it passes Kanapaha Park.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mulberry Cobbler

After being given a lot of Mulberries I had to find a suitable use; suitable meaning relatively easy. Pies have never been among my baking successes and jelly required more equipment and time than I cared to invest. One potential option was a Cobbler. The basic idea of a Cobbler is to bake fruit and batter either by baking fruit poured atop the batter or batter atop the fruit.

None of the several cookbooks I commonly use had a suitable recipe. I settled on a recipe found on Sharon Glasgow’s blog and the result was okay; too sweet and too crisp on the edges, but okay otherwise, meaning it was easy and tasty. With four, three cup containers of Mulberries and the recipe requiring only two cups I decided to take a “Cook’s Illustrated” approach and try making more Cobblers while varying the recipe. The second Cobbler, made with less sugar added to both the berries and the batter, was still too crisp but had more Mulberry flavor and much less added sweetness.

Because Cobblers are very Americana and part of our Colonial heritage I looked more deeply into my modest library of cookbooks. Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American probably should have been the first resource because it contains a wealth of good, basic All-America recipes. By merging both Ms Glasgow’s and Mr. Smith’s approaches I found an alternative that fully satisfied me and will serve well for other seasonal fruits in the future.
2 cups Mulberries
Less than 1/3 cup sugar

Other fruits may need to be softened by sautéing and sweetness varied by increasing or decreasing sugar.

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into several chunks
1 cup self rising flour
Less than 3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a 7 x 11 x 2-inch baking dish put butter chunks in dish and place in oven to melt butter.
  3. Rinse Mulberries gently, ignoring any stems found on berries as they are edible.
  4. Pour fruit into a bowl and gently fold in sugar. I prefer my fruit desserts to be less sweet so I use slightly less than 1/3 cup sugar.
  5. In a second bowl combine flour, sugar, vanilla and milk to make a smooth, thick, pourable batter. Add flour if too thin and milk if too thick. (Yes, you can make your own “self rising flour” but I preferred the convenience of store-bought.)
  6. When butter is fully melted remove baking dish from oven and carefully pour batter into it, making sure the bottom of the dish is fully covered by the batter.
  7. Scrape/pour the sugared fruit onto the batter and distribute evenly.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Top should be golden brown and fruit should not jiggle when shaken.
  9. Cool on a rack until temperature will allow you to eat it without burning your tongue.
Mulberry Cobbler

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Sometime in July"

Work continues on the Haile Plantation extension of Archer Braid Trail, but the project is behind schedule with completion anticipated "sometime in July." Some of the heaviest excavation has taken place along sections of SW 91st Street where much of the activity has been centered recently.
Along SW 91st Street

North on SW 91st Street

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Being Memorialized

I’ve been remiss in keeping up with postings here while I resolved some of the questions raised when I was asked about aging in Gainesville. A moment of indignation turned into months of introspection because the concept of aging isn’t the same as the reality. Eventually, something of worth emerged and had been published in the May edition of "Senior Times" magazine. There’s a link to the digital version on their home page
 ( Free, analog versions of the magazine are widely available locally at Publix and other locations.

An editorial observation about the piece in Senior Times; the images are not mine. They are stock photos.
Watch for Cars!

Unrelated news is the 2014 version of the National Bike Challenge, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. From May through September individuals record their daily mileage. Affiliation with bike clubs, workplace and community is recorded and, especially with bike clubs, competition becomes fierce. Gainesville Cycling Club buried all competition last year and is maintaining a firm grip on first place.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Archer Braid Trail makes Haile Village more accessible

Getting to Haile Village is a three mile ride mostly on the paved path winding its way through the Plantation’s neighborhoods and I do it boldly, despite the warn sign telling me the path is a benefit for residents and guests, only. I figure the Farmers’ Market in the Village is an open invitation.

When the current extension to Archer Braid Trail is completed access to the Village will be dramatically easier as will the ride to Archer. Memorial Park will be a fine alternative to using the YMCA parking area on Archer Road and the new section will add an additional couple of miles.
ABT through Haile
Haile meets ABT

Ninety-first Terrace is the Main Street of the Village; it’s where the Market appears on Saturdays and where much of the Village’s other “content” is located. With improved access provided by ABT it makes the eateries located there much more convenient destinations for anyone wanting to venture out on a bike. It’ll be possible to ride to Haile, indulge in snacks, a meal or just dessert and work some of the calories off getting back to the Park.
Haile Village may not be specifically bicycle friendly, but traffic is seldom a problem, amenities are easily accessible and there are widely spaced racks and abundant flyparking options. After the Market the most relevant amenity I might consider using me is dining, though it’s been a long time since I have availed myself of the opportunities.
Recumbent in Haile Village Walking and riding in Haile Village.

Haile Village Bistro
is a starting point for many Gainesville Cycling Club (GCC) rides so you can assume they are friendly or tolerant of bicycle riders. They’re open daily at 0700 offering light breakfast and complete lunch and dinner entrees until 11pm weekdays and 1AM on Saturday and Sunday. Their menu runs from deli sandwiches to Middle Eastern inspired Kabobs. English Pub food is also on the menu, but in my opinion it should only be ordered in the attached Queen’s Arms Pub; Fish and Chips, Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash have always been very good. Fish and Chips’ll cost you $12 and will be worth the price.
Queen's Arms Pub
Queen's Arms Pub

Haile Village Bistro
Haile Village Bistro
There is a rack across the street from the Pub and a wrought iron fence around the outdoor seating of the Bistro. Neither is the ideal way to accommodate bikes, but both serve the purpose and unless the weather is oppressively hot or unpleasantly cool, outdoor seating is a good thing.

I’ve been to Sisters only once, soon after they opened. Their Eggs Benedict was better than I could make, but maybe that’s not such a big complement, since I’ve never gotten my Hollandaise quite right. This is a breakfast and lunch place open from 9 until 2, Wednesday through Sunday. Many Saturday Market patrons do their shopping and morning dining there. If you have a spare $12 you can probably find something to suit your appetite.
There are no racks at Sisters, but there are trees and railings that are adequate and where a bike can still be seen whether in or outside.

patticakes is a confection destination but not nearly as bicycle friendly as it oughta be. With an abundance of carbohydrates available it’s a great place to indulge in extremes. Haven’t visited since soon after they opened so I’ve no idea how much a designer cupcake goes for. I do recollect that whatever I paid was justified by the taste.
Only flyparking is available using various trees and signs, but this is less than ideal.

Cacciatore is an oddity. It’s a catering company that makes pizza and other typical pizzeria fare from 5pm to 9 mp on Thursdays and Fridays. Its prices are competitive and reviews suggest they make good stuff. It fits outside the general idea of bicycle friendly. Maybe I’ll stop by for a piece some evening and have more to say about it. I'll even add a picture when i do.

Limerock Road used to be something else and it was something else when I ate there. Billed as “the Neighborhood Grill you’ve been searching for” it may be just hat, preposition notwithstanding. Like any good Neighborhood Grill in the Home of the gators, it offers Happy Hour whenever the Gators play. It’s not clear whether that is just football or includes lacrosse, softball, basketball, et cetera. The lunch menu shows a host of handheld Grill-type options for lunch and more worldly items for dinner. Lunch will cost about $10 and for dinner you’ll need more than $10 and less than $20 for a meal.
Limerock Road
Limerock has an adequate bike rack and there are numerous flyparking options should the rack be full.

South Garden and Limerock Road are in the same nook at the North end of the Village. South Garden offers typical items at competitive prices. As with Cacciatore, I’ll ride by some afternoon and taste what they offer. They’re open Tuesday through Friday for lunch (11am – 2pm) and dinner (5pm – 8:30pm) and for dinner only; Monday, Saturday and Sunday (5pm – 8:30pm).
Spring Garden
Adequate flyparking is available and Limerock’s rack is nearby.

With parking available at Memorial Park, ABT should become more heavily used than it is already and the possibility of a stop in Haile Village makes it even more appealing.