Saturday, June 29, 2013

G'ville at 12 MPH (feelin' groovy)

“The 59th Street Bridge Song “ by Simon and Garfunkel could be the theme song for a bicycle lifestyle. “Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last. Just kickin' down the cobble-stones, lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy.” There are so many things that would otherwise slip past if I was traveling at the posted speed. Accepting the slower pace is part of a process requiring that you anticipate some things and let go of others. It’s not solely about slowing forward progress, but that’s the first step. Aboard a carbon fiber road bike I would be much less aware of the simple things because the reason for spending all that money is to go faster, an obvious conflict.

Several places and things have converged recently. Here they are.

Across Archer Road from the 91st Street end of ABT are those Produce People. They’ve been there for “six or seven years” and in the produce business for “about 20 years.” Every Saturday and Sunday they set up their gear and present a nice selection of locally acquired produce. If it isn’t good they don’t sell it, so the selection is more seasonally limited than the nearby Publix. Recently, I bought a watermelon. It was damn good. I also have to thank my Travoy for making such a purchase possible! The tomatoes I also purchased were not as pretty as the ones available at Publix either, but they were also not treated with “supplemental ethylene to hasten ripening within a lot.” ( The result? They were damn good too!
The Produce People at 91st Street and Archer Road across from ABT.
At 12 MPH it’s much easier to stop and chat and learn something about such places and discover that when not on the southwest side of G’ville they ply their trade on the east side of town leaving G’ville for Hawthorne.

Haile Village Farmers' MarketEven though much of the resistance to creation of a portion of ABT came from within the Haile Plantation community, Haile Village is pretty much bike friendly so visiting the Saturday Morning Farmers’ Market is a regular thing. It can be a bit too tony at times, but many of the things available there are well worth getting.

I discovered the fine people of Cypress Point Creamery a few weeks ago and have kept some of their cheese as my “table cheese of choice.” Their cheeses are made from nothing but Jersey milk (no, not New Jersey) and the results are worth the effort to go each weekend and select something. Their Loblolly (a Tomme) is wonderful!

Nearby are the folks from Caprihaven Dairy Goat Products. They weren’t of particular interest until I realized I could buy goat milk from them. Might not be a revelation to anyone else, but it was a voilà moment for me. Why? The reason(s) follow.

1 pound flour (1/2 and 1/2 unbleached bread and whole wheat. Measuring by weight is the only way I can handle bread making)
2 Tablespoons chilled butter cut into pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup goat milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup liquid sweetener (Have been using Agave nectar, but honey and other liquids will also work, though taste will vary)
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast.

Such a pretty brown!
Yep, bread, and I have decided that it is the goat milk that makes the stuff so good. Now, I will be buying my goat milk in a Mason jar. If anyone needs the whole description for how to make the bread, lemme know in the Comments and I’ll give you my process.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Three Things About ABT and Other Thoughts

Perhaps the most obvious result of the Grand Opening of Archer Braid Trail (ABT) was the numerous bikes given away at the failed raffle. Failed? Uh huh. By definition, a raffle requires that chances be purchased, but the incredible generosity of the bicycle community and those who support bicycling made bikes and a bunch (that's the only word that adequately defines how much there was) of stuff available to be given away because this event was about being joyful and sharing something special.

Another ancillary result of the Grand Opening was the appearance of many bikes which hadn't seen the bright of day since being tucked away out of sight somewhere. Many had rusted chains, brakes that squealed more than stopped and tires showing cracks and needing air. Didn't matter. Archer was celebrating its special mile and a half of wooded, rolling trail and people wanted to be a part of it and use it.

The other thing of special interest is that all those newly acquired bikes and the recently revived ones can now benefit from a bike shop! Chain Reaction Bike Shop, which serves the needs of UF students across the street from campus on University, is working on an arrangement with Archer's Ace Hardware to permit drop-off service for repairs. How cool is that?! So, y'all with your raggedy chains or brakes that don't work, well, you'll find real quickly that repairing a bike costs much less than repairing your car. And those who received the raffle bikes . . . when you need service you have a way to get it done more conveniently. Chain Reaction isn't my FNBS, but if I lived in Archer there's a good chance it would be and based on this kind of reponse to a community they deserve the designation of FNBS!

Archer's a nice place to ride. There're things to see and people seem pleased to see riders . . . they wave and that's a good sign. Many of the roads around Archer are well known to recreational and competitive riders and with ABT it is much more pleasant getting to and using them. Seems like a good place for all of this common folk bicycle riding to grow and for "serious" riders to go. Be nice if Archer could become a focal point of bicycle activity. Maybe that bicycle themed pub I imagine can happen there! Let's see . . . ride down the trail then return for a specialty burger and onion rings, an adult beverage or a milk shake. Need those carbs!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Archer Braid Trail, Grand Opening, June 15, 2013

The Archer Braid Trail Grand Opening happened and it was probably exactly the kind of event it should have been. It was like a carnival, but where all the games were rigged so everybody won something. Ultimately, it was about families and kids and the common folk of Archer who'd be the most frequent and daily users of the first mile and a half.

There were speakers who kept their comments brief and relevant. And there was music, at least until the raffle started. There wasn't any money needed for the raffle. If you were there you could have a ticket. The number of generous donations was staggering; bikes and lights and locks to tune-ups and and flat repairs kits and soap. And there were the helmets. More than a hundred helmets were fitted and given to anyone who took the time to stand in line to get one. Adults waited patiently and without complaint as kids moved to the head of the line then smiled just as broadly when their turn came and they received their spiffy new bicycle helmet

Lots of riders came to the event and stood out in their bright garb, but the Grand Opening was much more about the basic, grassroots appeal of bicycles and Archer was probably the perfect place for it to happen.

ABT, ThenIt took a good imagination to see what the Trailhead would become.
Archer Braid Trail, Grand OpeningGrass and asphalt and people at the completed Trailhead.
The Gainesville Cycling Club setting up for the day's eventsThe Gainesville Cycling Club was at the center of making the event work.
Chain Reaction Bike Shop, Santa Fe, Chamber of Commerce, Alachua County Sheriff's Department and others came to share.Chain Reaction Bike Shop, Santa Fe College, Chamber of Commerce and the Alachua Sheriff's department werre on hand to share information and join the fun.
Helmets in all sizes!Can you say Helmets?
Fitting a helmet is serious businessReceiving your first helmet, having it fit properly AND remaining stylishly coordinated is serious stuff!
And then there were the numbers to be called"Number 42056!" "Number 42038!" "Number 42089!" No matter how long it takes and no matter how tedious it becomes, giving things away just feels good.
And it was about the bikes and the kids and people being glad to share a morning in the sun.
It's cool and I have a helmet, too!It's all black and cool AND I have a helmet!
Bikes in all shapes, sizes and purposes.It goes wherever I want it to go.
Define cool again.Sometimes, "cool" is a state of mind.
Sometimes "cool" is your state of mindSometimes "cool" is your state of mind.
Style mattersThere's this thing known as style.
Bikes are about peopleBikes come in all sizes and are fit for fun for everyone.
Cute works, too.Care to define "cute"?
A winner in every way.She came to the Grand Opening and went home with a spiffy Schwinn, a new helmet and a big grin.
Getting a good start.Getting a good start on a lifelong activity.
Bike Trails can accomodate more than bikesPleanty of room for skaters, too.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Every Bit of Support Helps

Sometimes it's just a matter of telling people why riding is important for them to offer support and encouragement. Happens at the grocery store when I'm wheeling my Travoy through the aisles and someone inquires about it and I point out that not only is it convenient for shopping, but that its real purpose is to fasten behind my bike and take all those groceries home. Similarly, when I spoke to the CEO of the local YMCA today and told him of the ABT Grand Opening and asked if it'd be ok if people used the parking area at the Y's field on Archer Road near 91st. He wasn't aware of the event but was fully supportive of effort to promote more bicycling. He also gave permission to use the grassy parking area north of the athletic fields. Anyone choosing to park there should be respectful of the adjoining Celebration Methodist Church's parking. While it is common to see cars with bike racks parked in their large paved parking area, they have not given specific permission.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's Next for the Archer Braid Trail?

Now that part of the Archer Braid Trail (ABT) is a reality when will enterprising people take the next step in elevating G'ville (and environs) from bike friendly to bike embracing? How outrageous (and outstanding) would it be if a bicycle themed pub appeared in Haile Village?! Silly idea?

Gainesville was ranked #37 among "Bicycling Magazine's" Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities in America in their 2012 listing because of "a robust cycling culture . . . anchored by the University of Florida, daily group rides, and the 16-mile Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail" and "the Gainesville Cycling Club . . . an annual ultradistance brevets series." The League of American Bicyclists says that 5.25 percent of G'ville's residents commute by bike and awards it Silver status

Obviously, there is much more to riding in and around G'ville, including being a significant point on the transcontinental Southern Tier Route of the Adventure Cycling Organization. The growth of ABT will only serve to make riding more accessible to more people. This may be contrary to the desires of resident denizens of Haile, but could prove to be a boon to Haile Village, which is a truly delightful place to ride. The Saturday Farmers' Market is among my favorite places to go and spend money. Would I go to a bicycle themed eatery/watering hole? damn straight!

The OTB (Over the Bar) Bicycle Cafe has successfully satisfied the palate and thirst of riders in Pittsburgh for more than four years and is expanding to Pittsburgh's northside. The relationship between bicycles and carbohydrates is well known there. Just a thought.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Some Changes Are Good

I don't know about you, or anyone else, but I am excited about the Archer Braid Trail's (ABT) official opening. After all the wrangling over its passage though Haile the amount of use the Archer segment is getting is pretty significant. Adding to the excitement is the level of acceptance from the elected officials in Archer. Still, it's the general acceptance of the Trail that is most significant; family's walking and riding is common. As noted previously, many people who used to ride into Archer daily are now using the Trail and thereby making their journey safer, more pleasant and swifter.

If you ride a bike and are not going to be in Archer on Saturday (June 15) at 10AM to offer your support and appreciation for ABT, shame on you.
County cleared fallen limbs and trees from ABT Congratulations and thanks to the County for the timely clearing of fallen limbs and trees from the Trail.

There's this house . . .
That House - Mid-May In early May you might have noticed the house near the Archer end of ABT.
By the end of May brush had been cut. That House - End of May
That House Now Now, after the effort of Alachua County Inmates the house is fully visible.
Surely there's a purpose for the County to have cleared the brush. Anyone know why?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Archer Braid Trail and How To Support Grassroots Causes

If it seems to have become a constant topic here it's because the Archer Braid Trail is a significant step in a good direction. Much of the use of the Trail will be for recreation and that's a good thing. Our culture can use all the physical fitness options possible. The step that is most significant is the one that makes Archer more accessible to G'ville. It's not like dozens of people will suddenly give up their cars and begin commuting, but someone might. Or maybe a few will think about it. I am much more likely to visit Archer now than when having to contend with Archer Road was a significant deterent. I hear the Mexican Restaurant is worth visiting.

Monica's Cococastile Soap Basket Here's a picture of the donation that the people (it's a family affair) of Monica's Cococastile Soap made to the June 15 Event in Archer. In part it is to support the bicycling community and in part to remind all of us that we still have the Hawthorne Trail which passes not far from the world headquarter of Monica's Cococastile Soap. I'd say do them a favor and visit one of their internet presences, but it'd be more important to you to visit them to do yourself a favor and order their stuff.
The basket is handmade from recycled plastic grocery sacks and is filled with 5 bars of handmade soaps: Bay Rum (my favorite!); Lemongrass; Eucalyptus/Lavender/Tea Tree; Rosemary/Peppermint; and Lavender. As Monica says, they are "refreshing, especially after a great ride on the Archer Braid Trail!"

On facebook:

Their website:

I ordered three Messenger Mirrors (MMs) yesterday and asked Bruce Kremer, the designer, maker, marketer and sales person if he'd be willing to throw a couple additional MMs in the envelope so I could add them to the two I was going to give to the Event and thereby be able to say more glowing things about him and MMs. I missed the statement on the web page that orders placed between June 6 and 15 would not be handled until he got back from a trip. Oops!

This morning, I received a message from Bruce and a refund for the three MMs I'd ordered. He told me he was on a trip, but had two MMs he was sending to me and I could use them as donations. Then he thanked me for allowing him to be a part of the activities! Come on, Bruce!

I have used Messenger Mirrors for a couple of years after being dissatisfied with everything else. They are light, durable, adjustable and inexpensive. While traveling on South Carolina's narrows, shoulderless roads last August I was able to keep track of every potential vehicle set to run me off the road. (Actually, no one even came close there or in Georgia or North Carolina.) Messenger Mirrors do nothing more than work and you can't say better than that.

Bruce has a minimalist website, but, like his Mirrors, it does all it needs to do.

You can read a review dating to 2009:

And you can visit the website:

And read what I have already said about Messenger Mirror:

Thanks to Monica and Bruce for supporting and being a part of practical solutions to difficult problems. Maybe real soap and mirrors aren't THE solution, but they damn sure are not a part of the problem and it's much better than the smoke and mirrors used by politicos.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Racks and Hard Places; The Archer Road Tour, Butler Plaza

Butler Plaza is one of the points of focus in G'ville and its size reflects its importance ranging over about a mile, covering something like 1 million square feet and housing about 100 tenants. There are grocery stores and eateries, a tax office and movie theater, armed forces recruiters and high tech repair. One of the catch phrases for Butler, as it's known locally, is "Take a moment and relax." Not a bad idea except during rush hour when Archer Road becomes something just shy of Death Race. It's not really that bad, but not enough people living here have experienced Atlanta to appreciate what bad traffic really involves. Can you say I-285?

Butler Plaza West, Central and East are on the north side of Archer Road and it is along Archer that most of the eateries front. Behind the eateries is the wide collection of places, but since this tour is about "where can I go to secure my bike?" it'll only touch on those places where racks or flyparking exist. For those who have forgotten, flyparking is defined as "locking cycles to trees or street furniture." Visit the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing to read an extensive discussion about bike security including a discussion of flyparking.

Security along the myriad store fronts in Butler is sadly lacking, but with some marked exceptions. Most racks are out of sight and in low traffic areas and of low quality. Where bikes were included in planning racks are more visible and sturdy.

Butler Plaza Target At the east end of Butler is Target and it presents an unfortunately typical out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude regarding bikes. The racks, while embedded in concrete and in sufficient numbers, are invisible to the mass of people using the front door. It appears that the rider of the Mongoose (the bike on the right) understands the bike's vulnerability as its seatpost is removed and both front and rear wheels are secured along with the frame.
Archer Road Target, Securing your Mongoose

Butler Plaza, Publix, formerly Albertson's There are no racks between Target and Publix. This is the formerly Albertson's Publix. Its racks, one at each of the two entrances are typical nonsecured, held-together-by-nuts-and-bolts racks. The racks are visible to patrons
Archer Road, Publix, formerly Albertson's, bike rack

That's it for Butler Plaza West. If you wanna secure your bike to go into Barnes and Nobles your only option is a sign across the street. Security mostly sucks in the West.

Butler Plaza Central is the most appealing of the three sections of Butler because of its quirky, outdated-but-now-trendy parking and its live oaks. bike parking isn't much better, though.

Best Buy
Butler Plaza, Best Buy
Best Buy is not quite a Target clone, but close. Probably makes sense to the decision makers to not include bicycles in their planning. After all, how're you gonna take a flatscreen entertainment monster home on a bike?

Elsewhere at Butler Central
Butler Plaze Central, Monkey Oak
Trader Joe's chose a location at Butler that has a bike rack in place nearby. It's right under the tree with the monkeys which makes it one of the more attractive places to secure your bike. Lots of room. Sturdy. Plentry of foot traffic because of Tracer Joe's

After that, well, your SOL until you get to the transition between Butler Plaza Central and the newly renovated The Esplanade at Butler Plaza, a rather grand name for a place which still houses Cici's.

Re-Tech and Hibbett Sporting Goods
Butler Plaza, between Central and The Esplanade Across from these two businesses is a sturdy rack. It is highly visible, but not near foot traffic.

The Esplanade will be next. Can you hardly wait?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's All About the Ride

I like to ride and that's probably obvious. If I could offer some insightful, Zen-like observation on what makes riding a bike special I would, but it is more about belief than thought. When I seek to put the expereince in words it becomes muddled. Riding, for me, is a singularly pleasant experience. Not much else can I say.

Signs at the Trail HeadThe accompanying pictures make the Archer Braid Trail a reality. Final touches were being made to the Trail Head by a couple of V. E. Whitehurst workers and signs were in place announcing the Trail's official opening. Clicking on the image will take you to the annoncement on the City of Archer website.

Trail Opening Announcement Flyer