Sunday, November 23, 2014

4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge; The Finale

The 4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge is over and 7 weekends, 7 cups of coffee, 7 different places way to spend some riding time. Thanks is due Mary of Chasing Mailboxes  for making it happen and I'm guessing that anyone participating did so with a smile on his or her face. I mean, bikes and coffee? How can you not smile . . . seriously!

For me the schedule was easy at least for the first few weeks with Haile Plantation's Village a place I go every Saturday, so planning the first few destinations was much easier than my ride up the East Coast a few years back. Below are my destinations and some relevant pictures.

Cup #1; October 4, 2.5 miles, Tree City Coffee Roasters
Tree City (soon to be called Flagship) is not in Memphis, but the young lady from whom I purchased my first Challenge Cup is Memphis.
Visiting Memphis

It’s hard to match the freshness of coffee roasted by Andrew on Thursday and sold on Saturday; that is exactly the way it works when I visit the Farmers’ Market in Haile Plantation’s Village each Saturday morning.
An drew at Tree City (Flagship)
Memphis filled my cup with Tree City’s Breakfast Blend and I took along a pound of Full City Roast (medium) Natural (Nicaragua – Selva Negra) for $12. A fine way to start a weekend morning!

Cup #2; October 11, 2.5 miles, PattiCakes
PattiCakes is also located in Haile Plantation’s Village and, as the name implies, specializes in cakes of the cup variety; very suitable to accompany a cup of coffee.


PattiCakes brews locally roasted Rembrandt Coffee in a neighborhood friendly environment where locals kibitz, chat and relax. Their house blend was even better when coupled with one of their cupcakes.
PattiCakes and coffee!

Cup #3; October 19, 1.65 miles, Barnie’s
Franchise coffee places are not my favorite places, but the local Barnie’s is more neighborhood then franchise and is a comfortable place to spend a few Sunday morning hours checking email and reading online news. The coffee of the moment was Mocha Java and it required a Danish to help overcome the UF Gator’s loss to Missouri’s Tigers.
Coffee at Barnie's

Cup #4; October 25, 4.5 Miles, Starbuck’s
I’d talked about bike parking along G’ville’s highly commercial Archer Road and one of the establishments with adequate through remote racks was Starbuck’s. Since then they have relocated to the other side of the street and I decided to check their bike security along with getting the Cup #4.
Starbuck's on Archer Road

Like any Starbuck’s in town it was full of young patrons, virtually all of whom were virtually connected to some virtual part of the virtual world. Like any Starbuck’s in town there was a steady din of conversation. The coffee d’jour was satisfactory and the donut I chose was above average.
Coffe and a "traditional" donut

The new location offers adequate bike racks and reasonable security, but with the drive-through passing within inches of the racks extra care is required when coming and going

Cup #5; November 1, 2.5 miles, Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill (LRNG)
A place featuring adult beverages might be excuse for the quality of its coffee, but when you call a tavern a “grill” and serve meaningful meals, the coffee should be as good as the meal. LRNG doesn’t serve mediocre coffee. Order a cup and you get some of G’ville’s best; Tree City.

I settled at the bar on an unseasonably chilly, blustery morning when the recently completed extension of Archer Braid Trail (ABT) through Haile Plantation was being officially acknowledged. Bike riders in their brightly colored kits mingled with the usual Saturday morning Farmers’ Market patrons, enjoyed some music, collected a few freebies and sampled munchables from LRNG.

Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

The ABT extension makes Haile’s Village very bicycle-accessible which fits well with the New Urbanist development’s concept. The Trail now extends nearly nine miles from the west trailhead in the small community of Archer to its current terminus at well-maintained Kanapaha Park and will eventually connect with other existing and planned trails. Ample parking at Kanapaha Park makes it an ideal place for families to enjoy the Trail and the 2.5 mile ride to The Village. Cup #5 blended all the things that’re good about riding a bike in Gainesville and the Challenge simply added another good reason to be in the saddle.

Archer Braid Trail Extension through Haile Village

Cup #6; November 8, 7.5 miles, Maude’s Classic Café (A Gourmet Coffee Shop)
With the last weeks of the Challenge at hand Cup #6 could be had in conjunction with the Fall Arts Festival in downtown G’ville. Whata deal! Maude’s was the right place to have a cup and a muffin before plunging into the crowd drawn by the Festival perfect weather; neither too hot nor too chilly.
Coffee at Maude's

A cursory study of Maude’s could cause it to be viewed as a hipster café, but it’s neither more nor less so than the other trendy coffee shops in G’ville. A cup of Sweetwater Organic Coffee, also a G’ville roasted brand, and a muffin while watching the eclectic mix of people made it a good way to prepare for the larger than usual crowd of Festival-goers.

Maude's and the Fall Art's Festival

Cup #7; November 16, 2.8 miles, Waffle House, Archer Road
America might run on Dunkin’ but in the South there’re a lot of people who’ll have their coffee at Waffle House so I decided to make the Southern Tradition the place for my final cup.

Waffle House on Archer Road

The coffee at WH isn’t exceptional, but it comes in a heavy cup that keeps it hot and you’ll get the question, “need some more hon’?” until you pay and leave. It’s hard to beat the value and even more difficult to ignore the Southern Diner ambiance; that’s one of the reasons to go there. Another reason? Waffles, of course. And then there’s the show put on by the grill operators on a Sunday morning.
Operating the Grill at Waffle House, Archer Road

Meeting the requirements of the 4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge was well worthwhile and helped put my disappointment from the Bicycle Challenge into proper perspective. Serious bicycle riding has little to do with kits and carbon fiber and centuries. It’s about caring about yourself and your community and enjoying the ability to get around on two wheels powered by your own effort.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fine With Me Dining at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

Riding a bike is not necessarily about how fast or how far. Sometimes it’s about where you end up and during the recent Coffeeneuring Challenge (4th Annual) I ended up at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill (LRNG), a place I’d visited in a previous incarnation. The coffee was good and the atmosphere was inviting; I knew I had to return and learn whether the food was equally pleasant.

I planned my visit to fit within LRNG’s Happy Hour window which is daily from 3 to 6 pm and for a day when sitting outside would be comfortable.  So, a few days after my previous chilly morning visit I returned when it was upper 70s and sitting outside was not only possible but pretty much required.
Because my tastes are simple I ordered some things I could understand; potato skins and beer. Because it was Happy Hour I sampled two on-tap brews; Brooklyn Lager and later, Sweetwater 420 Pale Ale. The potato skins were a very satisfactory finger food with more than adequate potato and the skins were tender rather than crisp, tough or chewy. There was neither too much, nor too little cheese and enough bits of bacon to add texture.

LRNG Potato Skins

An hour spent with a couple of beers, a quartet of potato skins, attentive but not overbearing service and delightful weather was about as much as anyone could ask for from any eatery and LRNG delivered. Park your car at Kanapaha Park and ride the 2.5 miles to Haile Village and the Archer Braid Trail extension, indulge at LRNG then work some of it off on the return trip.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Convergence: ABT, Haile Village and the 4th Annual Coffeeneruing Challenge

After years of debate, misinformation and misbehavior the extension of Archer Braid Trail (ABT) became a reality and making Haile Plantation’s Village easily accessible from Kanapaha Park.
ABT and Haile Blvd.
ABT and Haile Blvd.

The Village is an integral and extremely under used part of New Urbanist Haile Plantation.. On Saturday I combined the extension’s Grand Opening Celebration, my fifth stop in the 4th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge and my regular visit to the weekly Farmers’ Market.

Fewer riders appeared at this event than at the Grand Opening of the first six miles in June ‘13 becasue of the unseasonable weather, but those who did were dressed for the sunny, chilly, windy November morning. Adding to the small gathering, though, were curious patrons of the Farmers’ Market drawn by the music of Weeds of Eden.
Weeds of Eden
Weeds or Eden
“We play original bio-regional music, folk and rock standards, Celtic tunes, and filthy pirate songs.”
 See facebook site

It turned into a friendly, busy get together. Of special note, though, is the courtesy of Gordy and his Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill staff who provided an assortment of finger-edibles, bottled water and congeniality.
Courtesy of Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill
Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

Months ago I wrote a brief review of eateries in Haile’s Village, but focused on bike security. Four U-racks easily visible from inside make security a nonissue, though the cobbles into which the racks are secured make footing a mite awkward.
Bike parking at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill
Bike security at Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill

When the opening event was announced I knew I’d make Limerock one of my stops on the Coffeeneuring Challenge for two additional reasons; I’d be in the Village for the regular Saturday Farmers' Market and Limerock serves Flagship Coffee (formerly known as Tree City). If the weather had been less blustery I would have settled outside to observe the goings-on, but had I done that I’d’ve missed the energetic and friendly staff and the comfortable Neighborhood Grill environment.
Limerock and Flagship Coffee
Flagship Coffee at Limerock Road

I’d visited the establishment in its previous iteration, but had no knowledge of the current state of is comestibles. As a place to hangout and enjoy some conversation it’d be hard to beat; comfortable seats at the bar, large windows with a pleasant view of Haile’s Square and a place to enjoy the Gators on a couple of large screen TVs (and Happy Hour when the Gators are on the road). Unlike many “sports bars” Limerock maintains its pub style without forgetting how to offer a family friendly, part-of-the-neighborhood enviornment.
Bright and Welcoming
Bright and Welcoming Limerock Road

The coffee was good. The service and accessibility of the serving staff was exceptional. Now it’s past time for me to see what they can do with their food. For the rest of you; leave your car at Kanapaha Park, follow the Trail, visit the Farmers' Market and go see Gordy.
Limerock's Specials
Limerock's specials