Friday, February 6, 2015

The Ranch Floridian

After a great week in Clearwater with friends, I head north along the west coast of Florida through beautiful horse country.

Florida is strange. The further north you go, the more it feels like
The South.

Angie B's Soul Kitchen

Im a sucker for some pulled pork.

There is a beautiful wildlife preserve called Jay B Starkey Wilderness park.

Soon the horse country turns into nothing but straight, flat highway for miles and miles. 

When I get to Tallahassee, I have a couple of goals. One is to visit Krank it Up, the local community bike project. The other is to stay at 

The Bike House share things in common with other non-profit bike organisations. You can build a bike from donated parts. There are stands and tools available to the community to use, so you can fix your bike yourself instead of spending money at a bike shop. You can volunteer your time helping other people there. 
But there are two ideas here that make it distinct from all the other places I've visited visited. 

1. Here they will not only help you fix your bike yourself, but actually do it for you. There are a lot of homeless people in Florida who will not be able to use the tools, period. Many of them have learning disabilities. But at Bicycle House the mentality is that their bike should still work. They will just fix it for you. New parts and labor and everything. Donations work on a sliding scale, pay what you can. I think that's pretty cool.

2. Bicycle House also operates as a hostel for traveling cyclists. I.E, myself. Tallahassee sits on a very popular cross country bike route (ACA Southern Tier) and they hosts hundreds of cyclists each year. I have yet to visit another place that does this. I stayed almost a week.

When I arrived, there they were renovating. They had purchased the adjacent units of the building. Its a large expansion.

This is Scott. He is the founder of Bicycle House Tallahassee and he used to be a pro racer. HE is also an excellent guy.  He invited me to ride skinny tire bikes in the lycra-clad fashion.

I also went to
Krank It Up

I feel right at home here. This community bike project has been around for almost 13 years. There is a core group of collective members who do most of the decision making.

Everyone is welcome to come down use the tools to work on their bikes, or cool vintage Mavic wheelsets.

One of the volunteers is a frame builder.
Here is his polo bike with a handmade steel frame.
There is a pretty cool bike polo scene here.

They're good too, they've a few trophies.
I got to hang and watch them play.
Tallahasse definitely has a cool bike culture. I spent the better part of a week here. Some of it was business and some of it was goofin around.
But right as it was time to leave I met this guy.

More on him next time.