Thursday, September 26, 2013

There He Goes Again Talking About Being Old

There are many moments (and longer) when I get lost in trying to understand the idea of aging. Recently I realized an error in my contemplation. Aging may have been an idea at fifty, but with seventy growing closer it’s not an abstraction anymore. I remember much of the past fondly and too often feel inadequate to confront the future. The idea is never unique, but the reality is. No matter how many people are around us we still face everything alone by applying whatever principles or beliefs we have chosen to cultivate. With good fortune and productive thoughts we can find our best way for getting through all of the todays that’re still allotted for us.

Betrayal by my body is the most overtly disconcerting thing. Checking the plumbing under the kitchen sink is never a preferred activity but I’m certain that twenty years ago I didn’t have as much discomfort at every point of contact with the floor nor did I feel the need to grasp the edge of the sink when I went through the process of standing. I don’t remember it being a process, either. No matter how much and how often I lament getting old, today and all future todays belong to me. How I use or lose them is my choice.

When I was still an internal combustion gearhead I subscribed to the theory that when the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle it’s about time to replace the vehicle. Were it not for the VA allowing me to join the aging mass that they serve I would have reached a value versus function cusp long ago.

  1. Dupuytren's contracture (fixed flexion contracture) less than 10 degrees
  2. Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis)
  3. Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis of knees and big toes)
  4. Cataracts (repaired)
  5. Retinal detachment (repaired to 20/25)
  6. Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) of right femur with four titanium rods.

There are a multitude of reasons to lament the passage of time and its inevitable toll, but none matter much to those still viewing aging as an idea. As with all of life, it is whatever you choose to make of it. We’re the sum of the decisions we make and if decisions are truly based on our values, then we’ve had plenty of time to settle on what they are. Values, unfortunately, can be positive, negative or a bit of each. Resentment and frustration can strengthen what drags us down. OK, maybe I shouldn’t be so global, but it’s true for me.

Resentment lasts until I acknowledge, again, that the only thing limiting me is me. So, I intentionally get on the floor and get up again and I do squats until the grating and squeaking of my knees makes me cringe. Generally, when life sucks, I do things and what I do most is ride my bike. Being physically active doesn’t cure aging, but the sense of independence and physical competence accompanying every ride lifts sagging spirits like little else. I don’t have to “just do it”. Just doing is fine.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Racks and Hard Places; The Archer Road Tour, Butler Plaza Part 3

Parking a bike securely on either side of Archer Road is difficult and I guess the number of customers lost because an establishment doesn't have secure bike parking is minimal. Maybe it doesn't matter now, but . . .

"Paying less than $3.00 per gallon for gasoline may be automotive history for most Americans, like using 8-track tapes or going to a drive-in movie," says Bob Darbelnet, CEO of AAA.

"The reality is that expensive gas is here to stay," he adds.

Despite this long-running price trend, many Americans still find the current prices painful. According to a consumer index from AAA, nearly half of adults consider $3 per gallon expensive, and well over half deemed $3.50 per gallon to be too high.

Americans do not idly complain about gas prices. Data show that as motorists spend more for fuel, they either alter their driving habits or make other lifestyle changes to offset the cost.

AAA: Gas Has Been Over $3 a Gallon for 1,000 Days and Counting,

The influence and presence of Butler Plaza begins at the Archer Road interchange of I-75 and, like it not, the future of bikes in this part of G'ville as influenced by Butler's intended expansion will help to mold what happens in the rest of "Bicycle Magazine's" 16th Bike-Friendly City.

Much like its competition across the street, McDonald's is a seriously busy place because of its prime location by the Interstate. Drive-through is accomplished by circumnavigating  the building. The sunstantial bike racks are located at the rear of the building next to the drive-through lanes. This makes them slightly more secure, though it would be foolish to bet on someone passing noticing or responding to a theft in process.
McDonald's, Archer Road
The rack is used regularly, presumably by employees. The rack is not easily visible from seating inside the store.
McDonald's, Archer Road

Arby's, Dairy Queen and Exxon
Across SW 40th Boulevard from McDonald's is the combination Arby's/Dairy Queen/Exxon. This, too, is a busy location because of the one-stop option. Bike accomodation is similar to McDonald's with a U rack mounted next to the Arby's drive-through.
Arby's/Dairy Queen and Exxon, Archer Road
The rack makes the convenience store unusual because most have only rudimentary flyparking.
Arby's/Dairy Queen/Exxon, Archer Road

Gainesville Ale House
If you intend to engage in pub crawling by bike you'll have to trust to luck for your bike's security. Many of the Butler/Archer Road watering holes have no, minimal or inadequate bike security. The Ale House is typical.
Gainesville Ale House, Archer Road

Pollo Tropical
Pollo Tropical is the result of restaurant resurrection, but unlike some of the new construction bike security accommodation is limited.
Pollo Tropical, Archer Road

Texas Roadhouse
The Roadhouse does not have its own bike rack, or even an abundance of flyparking, but you may be comfortable with the U racks near the RTS stop. They are out in the open but well out of your site inside the Roadhouse.
Texas Roadhouse, Archer Road

Pink Narcissus and Yogurtology
Maybe you won't be riding your bike to the stylish Pink Narcissus where you can indulge in Lilly Pilitzer designs, but, if you do you'll have a better place to secure your bike. Whether it was intentional or coincidental, this new construction provides better than usual security for bikes,. Much like Esplanade, racks are convenient, visible and sturdy.
Pink Narcissus, A Lilly Pulizer Signature Store, Archer Road
You might stop at Yogurtology which is located directly behind Pink Narcissus where a substantial U rack is conveniently placed. You can easily enjoy something cold and not be so concerned about your ride.
Yogurtology, Archer Road

The rack at Zaxby's is near the front door and can be seen from inside the building. It's relatively high level of security is similar to those of the establishements across the street; Willy's, Wendy's and Chick-fil-a. Visibility and accessibility matter.
Zaxby's, Archer Road

They deserve a mention solely because of the secondary use to which they have applied their bike rack.
AT&T, Archer Road

Panda Express
There's plenty of flyparking at the new Panda Express. Perhaps becasue the specialize in fast take-out they felt their fence would be sufficient for customers.
Panda Express, Archer Road
Out back, presumably for employees there's a sturdy U rack..
Panda Express, Archer Road

There are only metal benches here. <sigh>
Chili's, Archer Road

T. G. I. Friday's
Up front there's nothing but furniture.
T. G. I. Friday's, Archer Road
Out back and unsuited for customers is the hired-help rack.
T. G. I. Friday's, Archer Road

Olive Garden
Poles and signs offer limited security.
Olive Garden, Archer Road

Tijuana Flats
The only bike rack for the entire building housing numerous businesses is located outside the entrance to Tijuana Flats. It is convenient and sturdy, but hedges and bushes compromise sight lines.
Tijuana Flats, Archer Road

Taco Bell
There's adequate flyparking on the fence outside the entrance to Taco Bell, but no "official" place to secure your bike.
Taco Bell, Archer Road

An adequate rack inadequately placed, except for the hired help, perhaps.
Chuy's, Archer Road

Hidden behind a banner is the bike rack at Lowe's and located near the west end commercial entrance. It's a busy location, but the ever-present banner creates a visibility problem.
Lowe's, Archer Road

Regal Cinema
Over there, obscure by bushes is the rack at Regal Cinema. Out of the way. Out of sight. Used mostly after dark. Pretty much a losing proposition.
Regal Cinemas 14, Archer Road
The inevitable result if security is inadequate.
Regal Cinema 14, Archer Road

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gimme Me Three Feet, Mister (with apology to Lynyrd Skynyrd)

I had an enlightening conversation with a friend a few evenings ago. She is adamant that bike lanes are a waste of money because most people do not ride bikes and those who do should not inconvenience those who don’t. She asserts that bikes should stay out of the lanes of travel because they are designated for cars. My response to that was agreement because it’s a helluva lot safer if I don’t have to compete with cars, but where there are not bike lanes, then what? Ride on the sidewalk!

There is a sense of disconnection between drivers and riders. We seem to slip into crevices of reasoning that narrow our focus and make it difficult to see beyond our self interest. Sometimes during rush hours when I have to cross the northbound access from westbound Archer Road I count the drivers who fail to use turn signals, because if I could count on valid signals I could cross much more safely. The number is always less than fifty percent. If you make that same turn everyday at about the same time I guess you begin to feel like everyone knows it. Or maybe it’s because of cell phone usage? Or maybe reading the recent text? Basically, it’s about complacency, isn’t it?

I become frustrated at intersections when I come to a stop while maintaining my balance and not dropping a toe to the road (a brief track stand) while waiting for the car that is there and has the right-of-way to proceed . . . but it doesn’t. Go, damn it! Instead, he or she gestures that I should go, assuming the windows’ glass isn’t too dark. So I go because maybe the driver is accustomed to riders ignoring stop signs. Maybe the driver thinks it’s courteous? Maybe I should just smile, make an appreciative gesture and hope that together we spread goodwill.

I told my friend that I commonly ride the sidewalk from Fred Baer Road until I reach Old Archer Road Trail west of 34th Street. I also told her that it is among the more demanding places I ride because drivers seldom check the sidewalk before turning onto Archer Road meaning that I have to anticipate the actions of the cars approaching Archer from Chick-fil-a, Wells Fargo, Starbuck’s and every other establishment along that lengthy stretch of sidewalk because I know I am invisible to a lot of drivers. It comes down to a toss-up between posing a perceived challenge to drivers on Archer Road or those some who are distracted and unaware.

All I want is three feet. I can make do with that amount of space. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do. Look back on my postings here about passing through South Carolina last August and you’ll understand why three feet seems adequate. More than once on the Palmetto State’s rural roads I delayed drivers until I could manage to give them room or there was no oncoming traffic. Not once did I have a close call or even a horn sounded in anger. Maybe it was the loaded bike that made the difference. Maybe it wasn’t.

No one has the single solution, but there’s little doubt that the best answer involves compromise on all sides. I have no suggestions beyond my personal desire for three feet. If I have that I’ll work diligently to stay out of the way of drivers and with a little good fortune they will not mistake me for a target.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Living Well With Burley's Travoy

My local grocery store is a mile and a half away. Guess I'm a common sight because far fewer people ask about my bike/trailer arrangement. Now, those who ask, are interested to know how it all works as a possible practical application for their lifestyle. The combination of a serviceable bike, inexpensive panniers and a sturdy trailer makes living without a car, at the least, manageable and generally joyful. It is, though, the trailer that makes it a successful arrangement.

For anyone confronting the cost of driving and considering alternatives, the use of a Burley Travoy as your lifestyle companion is a valid option. It'll haul 60 pounds and do so without undue stress. My three mile grocery store round trip includes a quarter-mile of wooded singletrack with a short, steep decline at the end. The Travoy handles the roots, sand and decline flawlessly.
Grocery Shopping

It performs flawlessly, in part, because of the flexible coupling that handles twists and turns and ups and downs.
Travoy Flexible Coupling

The hitch folds downward with no more than a twist of the wrist making the Travoy a very usable, maneuverable shopping cart.
Parking the Bike and Readying the Travoy

The Travoy will handle up to 60 pounds and that amounts to a lot of essential stuff.
Large and sturdy enough to handle bulky essentials

Typically, I visit the nearby Saturday morning Farmers' Market in Haile Village. Some of the residents of the Haile community were vociferous in their resistance to extending Archer Braid Trail though their community. The irony is that there are few places more inviting to bicycles than Haile Village.
Haile Village and the Saturday morning Farmers' Market

 In this period of people working at being "green" and Earth friendly, the majority of the vendors in local, open-air markets are the essence of green. They are, after all, the food chain.

Cypress Point Creamery makes cheese on their farm near Gainesville. I'm certain the decision to do something productive came from Nancy because John clearly spent too many years breathing recycled air aboard submarines. The clear air of north central Florida has allowed him to return to a near full level of competence and together they make damn good stuff. Hardly a weekend passes when I do not pick-up some of their cheeses.
Must acquire my minimum weekly allowance of tasty cheese from Cypress Point

Another local purveyor of good stuff are the good people of Kuma's Playpen Ranch. It is here where I get my fresh goat milk to make bread. It is obvious who makes things work here considering that as a younger man Thomas had no idea that being a Navy Medic meant serving with the Marines. Takes time for those of us from that era to find our way.
Goat milk, cheese, soap and good humor from Kuma's Playpen Ranch

In the South, beans are peas and peas are English Peas. Adding to the mild confusion is the additional fact, that all the wide variety of southern peas are in fact all Southern Peas. They originated in India, found their way to Africa and have become a staple of Southern cooking becoming known as field peas, crowder peas, cowpeas, blackeyes and more than fifty local names. Horticulturists prefer the name Southern Peas for all of 'em. Southern cooks care not at all about their preferred name and KNOW that one does not taste the same as the other. Among the most refined tastes, White Acre Peas are the best.

I've never asked the name of the gentleman who sells White Acres Peas at Haile, but he grows and sells the best . . . no argument.
The place for White Acre Peas.

Grocery stores cater to our desire for convenience. My perspective on what's convenient has changed significantly since putting aside automobiles as a necessary part of daily life. Going a little out of the way isn't actually going out of the way anymore. It's just more time spent riding and that's a good thing.

The produce people are a short distance from the Farmer's Market at 91st and Archer Road every Saturday and Sunday. It may not be as convenient to stop there as a quick trip to the grocery store, but it's a more rewarding experience and they have the best in-season melons.
Melons from the Produce People on 91st and Archer

Obviously, there are limits to what and how much can be hauled using the Travoy, but testing the limits and possibilities is a part of the adventure.

Plants, of course, do not test the weight limit, but can provide potentially useful camouflage.
Horticulture-Flowering Maple

Needed to take my PC to the PC fixer. With lots of packing material and moderately deflated tires to minimize bounce it was easily transported round-trip.
Hauling the PC
Packing the PC for hauling

Other bulky stuff is also manageable and feline approved.
Recycling and repurposing wood with feline assistance

Living without a car in a relatively flat place with moderate winter temperatures is easy, but handling the things that make cars useful requires some planning. Adding the Travoy to my bicycle accessories was a good choice. Few things are as well designed and functional are Burley's Travoy.