Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bike shop owner sells food, beverages along with gear, expertise in cycling

At 2242 Shelby Street, just a couple blocks north of Garfield Park on the Southside of Indianapolis, a shop opened this year offering a unique combo of retail fare -- bicycles and coffee/sandwiches.

Joe's Cycles had operated in Fountain Square next to Irma's Peruvian restaurant for several years. That shop's owner, Joe Cox (right), was the driving force and organizer of the one and only Fountain Square Grand Prix cycling criterium in 2012. Cox closed the Fountain Square shop three years ago because it lacked the space he needed to accomplish what he wanted to do: Build, repair and sell bicycles -- and operate a coffee shop. Both objectives were important to Cox.

In January, Cox landed at the Shelby Street location, next door to former Indianapolis Fire Station 29, and had a soft opening on Feb. 3 when he joined several Garfield Park area artists and other businesses for their First Friday open merchants' observance.

Three months later, Cox's shop is officially open and operating at almost full force. On his shop's Facebook page, he has a blurb that describes the business as "a boutique with an eclectic mix of bicycle related products, specializing in custom bicycle and wheel building." He doesn't say anything about the food and beverages he serves, but I've been to the shop, and I know that Cox values that aspect of the business as much as his bicycle sales and service.

The shop has a modest display area featuring cycles and gear stamped with the Bianchi brand. Bianchi is the world's oldest bicycle manufacturing company still in operation (it celebrates its 125th anniversary this year). Bianchi has associated with such Grand Tour cyclists as Fausto Coppi, Marco Pantani, Felice Gimondi, Jan Ullrich and Laurent Fignon. In addition to bike sales, Cox does repair and maintenance work on bikes; he has a separate building on the grounds to do that.

Cox acknowledges that bikes and a coffee and sandwich shop might seem an odd combination for a retailer, but he says that's what he did at the Fountain Square site, an experience he so much enjoyed that he wanted to do it again once he found the right location with the right amount of space in the Garfield Park neighborhood, where he happens to live.

Staging the Fountain Square Grand Prix on Aug. 18, 2012, satisfied a longtime ambition of Cox's. In fact, he had imagined -- hoped, really -- that perhaps sponsors and local cycling enthusiasts would be so excited about the event once they saw how it galvanized the historic and burgeoning Indy cultural district that they would jump at the chance of helping to make it a fixture, adding it as Indianapolis' third major cycling criterium (the two others are the Indy Crit in July and the Mass Ave Criterium in early August). The apparent hope to make the FSGP an annual event was so strong, in fact, that I saw promotions of the 2012 Grand Prix periodically described as "the inaugural," as if perhaps the deal had already been sealed to do it annually. Alas, that wasn't the case, but not because Cox didn't try.

Cox said the onus of responsibility -- both in organizing and financing the 2012 FSGP, which featured a program that included outdoor concerts sprinkled throughout Fountain Square the night before the race and quite a few arts and food vendors selling their goods in the heart of Fountain Square on the day of the race -- proved too overwhelming and too much for one individual. Hence, the 2012 FSGP went into the books as the only one. If there is any consolation, Cox does feel he laid the groundwork for how Fountain Square could be transformed for a major event. In fact, he pointed to the Virginia Avenue Folk Festival, which on Saturday staged its second annual show, surpassing FSGP's accomplishment.

When I was at Joe's Cycles for a second visit on May 13, I watched as Cox explained to a newly hired staffer -- a young cycling enthusiast who will be attending Indiana University in the fall -- the intricacies of making an Americano and prosciutto panini sandwich, which is what I had ordered. In the accompanying photo, that's a Caprese salad (left) with my panini. Which reminds me ... all of the ingredients Cox uses come from local merchants. Meats are from Goose the Market, and I forget where he said his coffee and Caprese salads are from, but I do remember him saying that are from local providers. I took all the pictures you see in this post today, using the camera in my iPhone 6s Plus.

When I visited the shop the previous Saturday, May 6, Cox said he was interested in getting more involved in the neighborhood. He already participates in the monthly First Fridays, and he said he was interested in finding ways to introduce his shop, especially its sandwich/beverage offerings, to events held at nearby Garfield Park. He said he already is delivering sandwiches to the Line 'Em Up saloon a couple doors north of his shop, and will avail the shop's edibles to customers of the Garfield Park Brewery (if it is interested in them, of course) when the brewery opens sometime this year a couple doors south.

Right now, the shop's hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays and Mondays.

The front of Joe's Cycles (above), 2242 Shelby St., which is just north of the former Indianapolis Fire Station 29 (far left), which itself is undergoing renovation by its owner. 

Cox's trainee (above) works the cash register behind the food/beverage counter, where one customer (below) is seated. If there is no room at the counter, customers have the option to sit elsewhere inside (second and third photos below) or, weather permitting, in some cushioned seating outdoors (fourth and fifth photos below).

Above: Some of the Bianchi hats and bottles that Joe's Cycles has available for purchase.

Above: Joe's Cycles is accessible to customers in wheelchairs. This is the ramp to the shop, as seen leaving the shop and looking toward the separate building where Cox does his bike repair work. 

Above: Customers who drive to the shop can park in one of these three spots behind the shop. 

Above: A squirrel peeks between a tree and a figurine in the small landscaped area behind the shop.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Inside the Dean E. Smith Center
and Carolina Basketball Museum

Last month, I devoted 10 posts to my travels to Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., and North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

In between the two South Carolina stops, Lee Ann and I swung north to the Raleigh, N.C., area to visit family. While there, I took a trip to the Carolina Basketball Museum and Dean E. Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina. The museum uses first-floor space of the university's Ernie Williamson Athletic Center.

There are few places in the country that possess the college basketball pedigree that UNC owns, so a visit to the museum and Smith Center -- which are located on the south end of campus -- is pretty special. Admission to the museum is free, but you do have to pay for parking in a lot across the street.

The Smith Center, two buildings down from the museum, doesn't regularly have tours or formal visits. I happened to inquire about getting access, and a museum staffer told me how to slip in. The museum and Smith Center are separated by the Maurice Koury Natatorium, although the Smith Center and natatorium are connected through basement halls.

I include a few of my photos from that visit in today's post. I had visited UNC in summer of 2015 and presented photos of the campus in a post from my self-guided tour when I was there. But I was there on a Sunday, and the museum and Smith Center are closed on Sundays, so I couldn't get access.

As always, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version. This is particularly important if you access the blog while using a mobile device. A full gallery of images from my visit to the Carolina Basketball Museum, Dean E. Smith Center and UNC Natatorium can be found at my site at

Photo geek stuff: Photos in this post were taken with a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. Each photo was bracketed for three exposures (normal and plus and minus 2/3) for possible later melding into one using high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing.

The Ernie Williams Athletics Center (above) houses the Carolina Basketball Museum on the main level. Adjacent to this building (to the right) are the Maurice Koury Natatorium (below left) and Dean E. Smith Center basketball arena (below right). Although the photo below shows the natatorium and basketball arena separated at ground level, they do connect via a hall at the basement level.

Above: In my 2015 post, I lead with a photo of the Smith Center facing Skipper Bowles Drive. This is a view of the arena from the reverse side. 

Above: Inside the door to the Smith Center basketball offices door one sees this bust of the arena's namesake. Smith was head basketball coach at UNC from 1961-1997 and had been assistant coach for three seasons before that. He finished with a head coaching record of 879-254, a winning percentage of 77.6. Smith died in February 2015, 21 days shy of his 84th birthday.

In the museum, there is a trophy case (above) dedicated to UNC's championships in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and a display devoted to the school team's contemporary success (below). 

Eric Montross is an important Indiana connection to UNC. Montross played for UNC after playing four years at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, where he led the Wildcats to a state championship in 1989. He wore the shoes above in North Carolina's 1993 NCAA championship game against Michigan, a 77-71 victory for the Tar Heels. Eleven years before that, Michael Jordan wore the shoes below in UNC's run to the NCAA championship.

Above and below: Two views of the spacious display area in the museum. 

Above: A display devoted to various UNC logo attire through the years.

A display case (above) devoted to Michael Jordan, the school's most famous basketball alumnus. The case includes such things as the shoes shown higher up in this post, a recruiting card (first photo below) that Dean Smith kept on file while "Magic" Jordan was in high school, and a copy of the letter of regret that Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski sent to Jordan after the Duke coach learned that Jordan had selected UNC over Duke. 

Above: The museum gives visitors this perspective of the approximate distance, or "look," from the spot on the court that Michael Jordan had when he sunk the game-winning shot in the 1982 NCAA championship game against Georgetown. Jordan's 16-foot jumper put the Tar Heels ahead 63-62 with 15 seconds left in the game, a lead that would hold and earn UNC its first title since 1957.

Above: In the free-throw lane under the basketball hoop shown in the photo above, there are four markers of important UNC baskets made "in the paint." The picture here is what one of those looks like.  

The above display is devoted to UNC basketball alumni who were first-round pics in the NBA; the display below is dedicated to the nine Tar Heels who are the UNC Basketball Hall of Fame: Larry Brown, Ben Carnivale, Billy Cunningham, Michael Jordan, Bob McAdoo, Frank McGuire, Dean Smith, Roy Williams and James Worthy. 

The look above was my first view of the court in the Dean E. Smith Center when I stepped into the bowl. The one below is the traditional view people get when watching UNC home games on television.

Above: Another section of concourse in the Smith Center.

The rafters in the Smith Center are a virtual adjunct to the museum. Above, uniforms of the Tar Heels' best-known players, and below, just one section of all of the school's Atlantic Coast Conference championships.  

Above: There are year by year team photos adorning the upper walls in the Smith Center concourse. The one above is from 1981-82, the school's first NCAA championship team since 1957. It features, standing in back, Michael Jordan (23), James Worthy (52), Sam Perkins (41) and Matt Doherty (44). Head coach Dean Smith is seated third from the left; seated next to Smith, second from the left, is then-assistant coach Roy Williams, who has been the team's head coach since 2003. Previously, Williams had spent 15 years at Kansas and, before that, 10 years as Dean's assistant at UNC.

In the text portion of this post, I mentioned that UNC's Koury Natatorium and the Smith Center are connected through a basement hall. I know that because I accidentally ended up in the natatorium -- without going outdoors -- while trying to exit the Smith Center. I figured I might as well grab the above photo while I was there.

Previous posts in the East Coast trip series from March:

Part I: Savannah's Forsyth Square

Part II: Savannah's old-city neighborhoods 

Part III: Savannah's Riverwalk

Part IV: Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery

Part V: Tybee Island, Ga.

Part VI: Revisiting Charleston, SC, and its charms

Part VII: Nature's splendor can be found at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston

Part VIII: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens' swamp preserve a photographer's delight

Part IX: North Myrtle Beach: Chills along the water

Part X: Heritage Shore Nature Preserve in North Myrtle Beach a compact, quick visit

Monday, May 8, 2017

Saying farewell to an old reliable

In a pile next to my bed today, there was a stack of magazines waiting to be read. There were at least two dozen of them, many of which at one point I'd started going through, but then paused in mid-read, leaving them open to the last page I was on. Doing that allowed me to know where I could pick up (I've never been much of a dog-ear person).

At the very bottom of that pile was the March/April edition of Popular Photography (right), which had been opened to a page near the front of the publication.

Shortly before going through the pile somewhat frantically this morning, I had learned in what struck me as a backward kind of way that the March/April edition would be PP's last. The current owners, Bonnier Corp., apparently made the decision to halt publication in March because of declining ad revenue, and it notified staff at the time. I found out about it Monday, two months after the decision was made, when I went to grab my mail this morning and found a copy of Popular Science magazine, which I knew I hadn't ordered.

Inside the clear plastic covering of Popular Science, there was a note of explanation, saying PP had shuttered and that to fill out the remainder of my paid subscription to PP, I was being offered Popular Science. I was told that if I didn't want Popular Science, I could instead receive one of a handful of other magazines (Flying, Field and Stream, Boating, Scuba Diving, Motorcyclists, Sailing World and Saveur).

I have no interest in any of those other publications, so it looks like I'll be getting Popular Science at least until my PP subscription officially expires.

At one time, PP had been the largest circulated image-related magazine, and according to the blurb about PP at Wikipedia, it had double the editorial staff of any other similar publication. I wouldn't declare that the magazine was the industry Bible, but from all indications, it certainly was revered and appreciated by pros and amateurs/enthusiasts alike.

There are online remnants of the publication still accessible, but I'm a print-first, hands-on guy when it comes to reading material. And PP was one publication in which I actually spent time browsing the ads as much as the editorial content, and I have to believe other photography enthusiasts did the same. From my experience, photographers are quite particular about their gear. They're always on the lookout for deals when they need something or are itching to make a change. So in that respect, I'm a bit perplexed why advertisers abandoned it.

I had subscribed to PP for at least 10 years, and for a couple of those years, I'd even purchased subscriptions for a son and niece who had expressed interest in photography. Both appreciated my gesture. Every time I got a new edition of PP in the mail, I would turn first to the gear and equipment test section. I did the same with Shutterbug (a similar magazine to which I also subscribe and which also has a new gear and equipment test section). PP and Shutterbug, I'm sure, furnished me valuable information on most of the cameras and lenses I would buy over the past decade or so.

I will miss Popular Photography. I can't help but worry that bodes poorly for Shutterbug, but I hope not. I hope Shutterbug has the financial legs that PP did not have.

I need to have a good photography publication in that pile that stays at arm's length near my bed.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Rain, flooding ... and a toy fire engine stuck in the raging creek waters

I'm sure it will seem like I'm on a multi-day theme here with this post, but ... you've all seen the weather in the Midwest. Rain. And more rain. And some flooding.

I saw it, too, puddles on the walkways in Garfield Park today, and a noisy rush of water in Pleasant Run and Bean Creek, which intersect the park and converge at the north end.

The nice thing about having my camera with me when I came across it all was that I noticed some neat reflections in the puddles on the walkway, and I was able record them and share with you here.

In Bean Creek near the confluence with Pleasant Run, I came across a toy vehicle labeled "fire rescue" stuck in the rocks of the newly landscaped creek bed. A perspective shot of the "vehicle" appears in the photo leading off the post. A closeup is inset at right.

Somewhat ironic is the fact that a real Indianapolis Fire Department station, No. 29, at 602 E. Pleasant Run Parkway, North Drive, is in the park, not far from this location.

Actually, there was another reason I decided to make this run for photos today. Yesterday, I dusted off my Canon G12 and used it to shoots pictures of a fun night visiting family when my daughter and her two small children came to town from Chicago for the weekend. I had been disappointed with photos I took using my iPhone 6s Plus a week earlier at my grandson's birthday gathering. I'd been looking for an option that wouldn't involve my bulky (and conspicuous) Canon 6D, 580 EXII flash and some kind of diffuser -- even though those combinations gave me pretty nice pictures.

I was disappointed again -- and quickly reminded why I put aside the G12 for so long -- when I saw the kinds of pictures I was getting. The G12 really isn't made for the combination of inside ambient light and moving objects. Much of what I tried to shoot last night at the family get-together was small kids moving around quickly (and dancing). I wished I'd have had my 6D and 580 flash. I did get some good videos with it, though.

But I took the G12 with me on my outing today, and got these nice photos. This camera is much more suitable for outdoor lighting scenes. I'll have to remember that.

Water from Pleasant Run passes under the Pagoda Drive bridge (above), a short ways from the creek's confluence with Bean Creek (above). If you look in the background on Bean Creek (right), you can see the toy fire rescue vehicle. 

Above: The railroad bridge over Pleasant Run, just east of Manual High School.  

A bog between the pedestrian path and the old tree outside MacAllister Amphitheater in Garfield Park (above). Nearby is a puddle (below) reflecting another tree.

Water collecting on the pedestrian path leading to Conservatory Drive (above) in Garfield Park, and a different park puddle on the path leading to the relatively new bridge over Bean Creek (below). 

Above: Bean Creek, looking north from the new bridge between the amphitheater and the Sunken Garden.

A modest puddle just off the Bean Creek bridge (above), and a more formidable one (below) further down the path, just outside the gated Sunken Garden. 

Above and next five below: Puddles and their reflections along the path behind the Sunken Garden.