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Monday, December 7, 2009


The other day I was saying how the frost on the bridge looked like snow. Saturday we actually did have snow! In December! I can't even remember the last time we had snow in December in Chattanooga. Snow has gotten very scarce around here and when it does come, it is never this early in the year.

Of course, it was gone by noon. A typical southern snow event. So these pictures of snow on the bridge are rare indeed!

Here is Q walking across the bridge. I was on my bike when I encountered him. He was looking very picturesque, I think.

It seems the snow brings out unusual characters-here is Santa Cow! Santa Cow wasn't talking so I couldn't get the reason exactly why Santa Cow was out there. But, hey, why not?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stone Cup Visit

Yesterday morning Q and I had breakfast at Stone Cup. Q goes out for breakfast as his regular thing but during the week I rarely do so. I like the coziness of my own home for my morning oatmeal. but circumstances led me to go out with Q on this morning.

Stone Cup was doing a bustling business. It was closes for a while and it is good that business seems to have bounced back. Maybe even better then before. Chattanooga has had,in recent history, great coffee shops with several that do their own roastering (I read once that Chattanooga has more roasters per capita then Seattle. Who knew?) But at one time there seemed to be a trend for these coffee shops to develop ownership/management problems. It was like a virus that fell over our most favorite coffee shops. It was getting hard to go and find a spot to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

But it seems Stone Cup is back. and is better then ever. The new owner has brought in fresh ideas. He has brought more of a reading room atmosphere to the place with lamps were positioned next to the couches and chairs-I never understood why many coffee shops are kept so dark that reading at night is very difficult. Pictures of banned authors have been placed on the wall plus the banned books are for sell.

But of course, a coffee house is about the coffee. The coffee is still being roasted by Jennifer Stone and her gang so that is the same as always. But Q, as much as he loves coffee, judges his morning coffee house visits by the oatmeal being served. While Stone Cup was going through its woes, their oatmeal got very inconsistent. Q, patience finally running out, quit going. There is nothing that can set a negative outlook to life then stiff, lumpy oatmeal.

I am pleased to say Stone Cup has gotten its game back and has been producing consistently good oatmeal. Q believes you can judge the state of the management by the oatmeal and I agree with him. As these coffee shops started going through their woes, the first sign was a decline in oatmeal quality. Don't know why, but that is what we have found in our experience.

Of course, Stone Cup's location provides unique amenities. The view out the garage doors is the one of the best views of the bridge. The doors are raised on nice days to open out to the patio.

And the bike parking is covered! The breeze way next to the shop serves as the ideal bike parking place. On rainy days, I feel bad if I am in the cozy dry while my bike is left out in the rain. And then there is the coming back to a rain logged seat. Invariably I left something in my panniers uncovered. So covered bike parking is the best.

As to be expected for a coffee shop on Frazier Ave, there are plenty of bike riding patrons. The only business that I can think of in town that regularly have more bikes parked outside their door is Greenlife. So Stone Cup is definitely part of the laid back biking lifestyle.

It is so good to have Stone Cup back!

Another Bike2Work

Today was Bike2Work First Fridays. Another wonderful gathering. It is so nice to see so many bikers even in this cold weather. Bike commuting is such individual activity. We are just going about our business and the bike part is a means and not an end as is social riding or exercise riding is. We have somewhere to go and we have chosen the bike as the best way to get there, whether for practical reasons or aesthetic reasons, or probably a combination of both. So getting together isn't innately part of it.

Although, as more and more people bike, the serendipitous coming together is happening more and more. One time as I approached Mississippi from Tremont, there was a biker coming from each direction of the intersection. I actually had to stop to accommodate bike traffic!

And recently riding through a North Chattanooga neighbor, three of us individual bikers found ourselves riding along together. 3! Totally independent of one another! I think these incidents are showing the growth of biking.

But nevertheless, it is an individual activity and Bike2Work is an opportunity for us to get together and bond with one another. We trade stories and tips about biking, but mostly it is like getting together with friends. I have met great people. I like to know the stories of why,when, where and how (all those journalistic points) of their biking.  I encourage any Chattanooga Bikers who are reading this and do not know about this gathering, to come out and join us. Through the winter we are meeting at the Outdoor Chattanooga Center in Coolidge Park between 7:00 and 8:30 am on the First Fridays of each month.

And at today's Bike2Work, Pulse Radio (WPLZ 95.3)called in to check out the Bike2Work and Dale Deason actually asked to speak to me. I have started to send in regular bike reports so I guess my name is becoming known. (This morning I was listening to the bike report and my report was read and they even mentioned my name.) So I talked to Dale about biking. He sounds like he is really behind the biking idea. And I have to say everyone at the station is super nice. I e-mail originally all the names that were in the notice from Outdoor Chattanooga telling us about this report, and every one of them sent a nice reply e-mail back. I am so glad we have these people backing the Chattanooga biking scene. I just know this relationship can only bring good things. How exciting!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Cold and Radio Report

Today was cold!!! I think I heard it was 29 degrees. Did I ride? Yes! Now, at one time, the answer could have been no. I used to be more of a weather wienie. When I started biking as a commuter 8 years ago, it was to be fun. So any day that didn't promise fun, I didn't ride.

I still feel that way. It is just my definition of fun has greatly expanded. And cold no longer gives me the chills, so to speak. I have lightened my bundling (though there are those who say I still wear too much) and now love the feeling of exhilaration that only exercise in the cold can give. It is nice arriving at work with no sweat and that high feeling. I once recommended new riders to start in the warm weather but I might be changing that to recommending the cold.

The Walnut Street Bridge was beautiful as always on cold days. It takes on a layer of so much frost, that it looks almost like snow. In extreme weather conditions, only the most die hard bridge users are out. At the moment that I took this picture, there was no one to be seen.

This picture does not capture the beauty that I was seeing very well:

As I continued on, there were other users-the very regulars that I see everyday. This is the true morning bridge community that has become so familiar to me.

I took today to do my first bike report. Pulse News WLPZ-95.3FM has started to do bike reports. How cool is that? During the morning drive time, Denise Galloway, Louis Lee, Dale Deason and Chris Taylor of Pulse News will be taking reports from cyclists about the daily riding conditions. I wonder if this is a first in radio? It goes without saying that it is a first here. The goal is to normalize bike riding. Listeners hearing on a regular basis from cyclists as a normal thing. will eventually start thinking of cycling as a normal thing. This is such a good idea I am committed to try doing my part.

So today, I called about the cold and the bridge was my first report. It was recorded so I don't know when it played or if it did play. I don't listen to the radio at work. I don't know how often I will do these reports. Most days my ride is uneventful. But I will be on the lookout for interesting things to report. Listen for me!