Hello, Zoobird! I hope you all are doing well! I thought I'd just throw out some random updates and let you all know how I am doing personally, not from so much a Zoobird standpoint but from a Michael standpoint. Where to begin?
My most exciting news has to do with a new bike ride I've worked into my day. There's a park called Kanapaha nearby and a pond within it called Chapman's Pond. Chapman's Pond is a bird sanctuary with a fence around it and trails around the fence. It's just 15 minutes away and I bike through a hilly neighborhood to get there. Hills are rare here in Gainesville, FL. So, I work my way up the hill and then glide down, happy as a kid, to the corner where a horse pasture begins! Idyllic!
This sweetie caught my eye while I hiked around Chapman's Pond the other day. According to Susan Marynowski, one of Mark Williams' Botany Everyday community members it's "Monarda punctata (dotted horsemint)...a beautiful native member of the mint family, very attractive to pollinators, can be used as food (dried as a spice somewhat like oregano) or medicine (also similar to oregano in its antimicrobial properties)." This is just one of the reasons I've fallen so in love with Kanapaha Park and Chapman's Pond.
The photo above is my bike next to a huge calcium boulder, one of many at Kanapaha park. Click here or the photo if you're interested in seeing a set of photos of the '93 XO-1 I bought in Oakland, CA. Some of the photos were taken in my good friend Michael Hauser's Berkeley neighborhood, off Maduro and Solana.
That's Kevin McAuliffe in the photo above, thumbs up the day I dropped by via BART from Berkeley and the JavaOne conference I was attending, to check it out after seeing it for sale in an ad on craigslist.
I caught the Bridgestone XO bug at the JavaOne conference that week. There was a bike parking lot set up and a cool dude named Liam watching over the area. I walked by and a forest green XO caught my eye. It had sturdy front and rear racks, mustache bars with natural cork wrap, and a honey Brooks B-17 saddle. That shade of green has always been my favorite color. So, I stopped to look at it and snap a photo and Liam walked over. He began telling me about Bridgestones, Grant Peterson, the founder of Rivendell bikes, and the XO story. Basically, Grant Peterson was the Bridgestone product manager for their bike line. He was not just a marketing guy, but a down to earth bike enthusiast. He wrote marketing media that was pleasant and informative to read. And, most importantly, he had a hand in designing Bridgestone's line of bikes in the late 80's and early 90's. Grant insisted on practicality over brand every chance he got. The XO series of bikes (XO-1 best... XO-5 least expensive) was a line of some of the first hybrid bikes. These bikes had sturdy frames with geometry that worked well on and off road. Fat tires worked fine, as did triple cranks.
I was hooked! Liam sent me off thinking more about the XO bikes than the software conference I was attending. I thought "Hey, why not check craigslist and see whether there are any XO's for sale." Sure enough, I found the purple XO-1 Kevin described as a "Workingman's Blue Collar XO". I always loved the Workingman's Dead album and anything blue collar sits well with me. So, I checked the map after we talked and called Kevin back to say I'd hop on the BART and drop by to check his bike out.
I took a super pleasant BART ride from the San Francisco Convention Center to Oakland, hopped off and walked down the street to Kevin's house. He shared it with 3 other guys, all bike enthusiasts. I heard a heated conversation going on between a couple of his roommies as I rang the bell. Typical collegiate atmosphere. Reminded me of my days at college, sitting around, feeding my head with stimulating ... talk about whatever the subject du jour was.
Kevin told me he'd taken this bike all over Europe and many of the hills in the Bay area. In fact, he's mapped many of his local rides using MapMyRide and his GPS on his iPhone.
I took the XO-1 for a ride and I loved it. I was bummed that Kevin wanted to keep the delectable saddle he had on the bike, and even though I offered a good price for it, he insisted on keeping it, as many people attached to their personal gear do.
Well, I wound up taking the bike for a ride, talking a good while with Kevin and we made a deal. I'd take the bike, store it at Michael's house and enjoy it on the frequent visits I made to the Bay area to visit Mike and all our friends. That's the XO-1 the day I bought it. It's leaning on Michael's bio-diesel Mercedes 300 TD and aren't those flowers magnificent?
Kevin apologetically put the original saddle back on the XO, an Avocet. Funny, it's turned into a saddle I like much better than all the rest, Brooks included. It's not as nice to look at as the patina a Brooks takes on after years of use and saddle creme, but it's very comfortable and has good support. Plus, it's not prone to tearing like many saddles do when leaned up against something to park. It will tear, but not if you're mindful.
Well, I drilled down a bit and focused on XO-1 bikes, Kanapaha Park and probably my favorite flower photo of all time. The horse pasture I mentioned is so nice. I'll show y'all photos of the serene examples of zen-like horses I see every time I bike by when I run across some good photos, which you all know I have. Thanks to the iPhone camera.
What else? Well, my favorite bike shop 8th Ave Bikes and Coffee in Gainesville continues to be a place I enjoy every chance I get. I read somewhere, probably in some Grant Peterson prose, that you should always spend $5 each time you hang out at your local bike shop. I go to 8th Ave Bikes and Coffee and enjoy local roast beans from Sweetwater expertly prepared on their refurbed vintage Italian espresso machine.
Let me tell you, Musa and Ryan (and co) can brew up espresso to compete with some of the finest anywhere. So, if you're in Gainesville, I recommend that you drop by. Bring your internet enabled gear because 8ABC has fast wireless. Plus, you may even see some local art. Several gorgeous paintings from Gainesville's Church of Holy Colors hang in Zoobird HQ these days. In fact, here's a one of them for you to admire.
This is from the Church of Holy Colors. It grabbed my eye hanging in 8ABC and I was fortunate enough to enable it to hang in the Zoobird office. So, my point is that 8ABC isn't just a bike shop, but it's also a community resource.
This is Evan Galbicka of the Church of Holy Colors describing their art. If you can't see the video that's supposed to be above, please click here. Sometimes the video links don't resolve properly.
OK, major detour going on here! I'll sign off now and hop on the bike. Today's Sunday and I plan to head to the McRorie community garden. I'll do some weeding and then plant some mesclun (salad mix) and hopefully run into Ingrid, my garden patch podnuh and some other of the wonderful folks at the garden.
What's up in our world? I take such pleasure and I know everyone else does when you share your thoughts and experiences, tips, photos, music and whatever else with us here at Zoobird. Please, do!